The title of this post is a little misleading. I haven’t been making jam, but jelly.  Unless you live in parts of Kansas or Oklahoma, you probably don’t know what those little gems in the picture above are. They look a little like cherries, but they are actually sand plums.  They aren’t very good to eat plain off the bush, but they make excellent jelly.

Usually, sand plum season here in my area of Oklahoma is over in late June. I had a bunch of sand plums that my mother- and father-in-law had brought me in the middle of June. Then I ended up in the hospital, and the only sand plums that survived until I was able to make jelly after VBS were only enough for one batch.  Everyone loved it and we were very sad that we had missed the sand plum season and would have to wait until next year to make more.

Early this week, my FIL and I went out early in the morning (to beat the heat!) looking for elderberries to make elderberry jelly with. Elderberries are third in Vitamin C content, only beaten out by rose hips and currants, and some sources say that eating elderberry jam can keep you from becoming sick during the winter, or speed your healing time. I’m all for that, so out we went, FIL knew where some were.  We found one stand of ripe elderberries, and lots of unripe ones. After picking two buckets, we got back in the truck and headed for home.

FIL was pointing out the sand plum thicket growing along the rail road track when suddenly we noticed, they had sand plums still on them!! We were excited, maybe there would be enough for one more batch of sand plum jelly!

We pulled over on the side of the road, climbed up the weed covered (I am sure snake infested, but I’m trying not to think about it) hill, and realized, this wasn’t just a few late ripening sand plums. There were sand plums dripping off these plants, and pretty quickly we had filled a few grocery bags scavanged off the bottom of the truck floor with so many sand plums the bags were ripping.  FIL says they are the biggest sand plums he has ever seen.  We were so exceedingly blessed, it was as if they had been put there just for us.  Then, a few days later, my friend Tina and I went back, (she needed sand plums for her own jelly!) and we climbed up and over the hill, and there were sand plums as far as you could see on either side of the path we had climbed up. I got two buckets full again. Then we went and picked the most delicous apples off an abandoned apple tree, and I haven’t even started with those.

I came home and started the jelly making process.  First, the sand plum stems have to be picked out, and the fruit has to be washed.  You combine 5 cups of fruit with 5 cups of water and cook it until the skins of the fruit burst, and they plump up a bit.  You strain that mixture through several layers of cloth, not squeezing it at all, but letting it drip through slowly. This way, you get a nice clear jelly instead of cloudy jelly, although cloudy jelly tastes just as good!  You them mix 5 and 1/2 cups juice with a box of fruit pectin, 1/4 cup lemon juice for the acid, and a dab of butter to keep the jelly from foaming.  When that boils, you add 7 and 1/2 cups of sugar, bring it to a boil again, and boil it hard for one minute. Then you pout it into clean, sterilized mason jars, wipe the rims and sides of the rim with a wet clean cloth, add lids and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.  It isn’t hard work, but it is time consuming, and if you make a lot of jelly, pectin and sugar seem to get expensive.

I won’t tell you how much jelly I made. You would think I was crazy. I am not entirely sure that my family and all of hubby’s extended family can eat it all in a year. There is always the possibility that next year, we won’t have such a blessing finding sand plums, because this year we had a cool spring, with lots of rain.  I made elderberry, sand plum, and a combination of sand plum and elderberry that is just delicous. I’m going to have to make more of that, cause it was my favorite by far. I still have enough sand plum juice for 3 more batches, and enough sand plums to make juice for 3 more batches after that. It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it, even though I was exhausted when I was done. The only problem is, I have no idea where I am going to put it all. I need a cellar, like my grandma had to put all her canned stuff in.

Being sick in June was upsetting. I wasn’t that sick, but Sean and I really didn’t need another hospital bill after his two trips to the hosptial in April.  Then I missed making the sand plum jelly, and that upset me too. I had been looking forward to it, and to only have 4 jars in that original batch was just enough to make me upset that I hadn’t been well enough to pick more sand plums so we would have had enough jelly to last us the winter.  It didn’t seem fair.  Something I read recently stated that when you start compaining that things aren’t fair, you are really complaining that God isn’t fair, that He did you wrong.  I truly believe that God has a plan for everybody and everything, including me, as insignificant as I feel sometimes. I don’t believe that He can be unfair, and He certainly isn’t wrong. So I know that for whatever reason I ended up in the hospital, it is in His plan.  But I was still upset about the sand plums.  Finding those sand plums this week felt like God saying, “See, Jan. I know the desires of your heart, and I want to bless you beyond your wildest imagination. There’s nothing I can’t do.” Because He did. Those sand plums shouldn’t have been there, and I certainly have more now than I probably should use.  Things are tough, but with God, I know that I can face it, and He’ll bring me through it.  I am abundantly blessed.

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