Sand Plum Jelly and Jam – An Updated Repost

Plum Jelly

Plum Jelly


As a child and young man 4th of July was a day of popping firecrackers and picking wild plums. Plums could be found most of the month of July, but, they were at their numbers and flavor around the 4th of July. My parents and grand parents survived the ‘great’ depression {1930- 1941}. Nothing was ever thrown out or an opportunity missed. The 4th of July was a day set aside to pick wild sand plums that were used in making jelly and jam. Enough had to be picked, canned and stored to last the family until next July’s harvest.

Family members came from near and far. They would gather at grandma’s house, some tried very hard to arrive before breakfast knowing grandpa would surely invite them to share one of grandma’s famous biscuit, jelly, bacon and egg breakfast. She was born 1883 and cooked on an old wood stove until her death in 1964. I still remember how wonderful her kitchen smelled to a young boy. It was a wonderful mixture of burning mesquite wood, fried bacon and pork chops. Accented by the smell of home made bread and biscuits. Sometimes early in the morning or late at night you could smell the coal-oil burning in their lamps used for lighting. Grandma didn’t get electric lighting until she moved off the farm, into town in 1955.

Grandma would hand out half gallon Ribbon Cane {sorghum syrup} syrup buckets to the younger kids and one gallon sorghum syrup or molasses buckets to ‘us’ older kids. Adults had to manage with two gallon water buckets. When you got your bucket filled, it was dumped into several #2 wash tubs setting in the back of grandpa [daddy bob’s} 1940 ford pick-up {truck}. If you don’t know what a pick-up is, today everyone calls them a truck. They are really to small to be a ‘real’ truck, but I guess that’s a sign of our times.

For lunch grandma passed out sandwiches she made from her home made bread, stacked high with fried potatoes, fresh sliced smokehouse cured ham and a glass of milk she had been keeping cool. This was no easy task! Grandma would keep the milk {from her old milk cow, fresh from that mornings milking} in a large crock jar and in the the shade. The crock was wrapped with a burlap potato sack and grandma keep wetting this burlap sack to keep the milk cool. After half a day in 95 plus degree temperatures a cold sandwich and glass of cool milk, dipped from the milk crock using a dipper gourd grandpa had cut and cleaned just for dipping milk, was just what you needed before you hurried back to the plum thickets to finish picking plums before it got ‘really’ hot.

On the up side, after you got back to grandmas house you would meet at the windmill and using water from the cows water trough, wash up and take turns looking for and picking off any ticks that may have attached them self’s to you in places you can’t see. Washing off all the blood from small puncture wounds and scratches received in a day plum picking. You could be assured grandma and grandpa would kill two or three chickens and you would be treated to one of her ‘special’ fried chicken, home made bread, fried potato and gravy supper {dinner to non-country folk}. Topped off with fresh salad and vegetables picked from grandmas garden.

Home fried chicken

Home fried chicken

Darkness arrived about 9:30 so, after eating supper everyone headed home. Grandma would wrap any left over chicken in wax paper saved from store bough sliced bread wrappers,{this was BP, Before Plastic wrap} telling the kids to share. She didn’t want to waste it nor have a kid go home hungry. Grandma and grandpa would stand at the yard gate waving as cars and pick-ups slowly disappeared into the darkness of that long dusty road for their drive back home. The real work wound begin in the morning. For the next three or four days grandma and her daughters and grand daughters would cook plums from sunup till sundown, making and canning plum jelly and jam. Enough to last her family for a year and to help out a needy family make it through next winter.

Grinning, in her spare time grandma canned peaches, pears and apples as well as vegetables picked from her garden. Then carefully stored in the darkness of her storm cellar. Unlike today, canning was a survival strategy. Without her many hours of hard hot work her family would go hungry through the long cold day’s of winter. When grandpa brought home surplus fish this to was canned.

Why is common sense so uncommon?
Don’t be shy. Leave me your comment(s)

Did not mean for this to drag on so long, I just could not seem to find a logical place to stop!!

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9 responses to “Sand Plum Jelly and Jam – An Updated Repost

  1. I bet you all were plum-tired out by the end of the day and slept well that night. How much we miss these days, when our “foraging” consists of walking through the grocery store and picking up a bucket of KFC to eat while watching a movie about people doing something.
    Oscar

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  2. I thought it was a wonderful story and would have been pleased with more! May I ask how you used the plum jelly? Only on jam? I heard it is good in place of ketchup and great on meat or potatoes.

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    • Re: thebeadden Thanks for liking my Jelly/Jam story. In general this was after the Federal Government declared an offical end to the depression, even so, many people still had little money to spend. Sugar was expensive, jelly/jam and sorghum cane syrup could be made at home and was cheap to make. They were used in and on many things as a sugar substitute. Smiling.. I don’t think ketchup had reached the dryland farms of west Texas until sometime in the 50’s 🙂 I think I was 19 years old and drafted into the Army before I ever saw anyone eating that over processed sweet tomato product!

      Happy gardening

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      • I was just give two jars of plum sauce (not sweet) that they use in her country (Georgia). She said it was good on meat or potatoes. I haven’t tried it yet.

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  3. Teresa Cleveland Wendel

    Grandma memories are the sweetest, aren’t they?

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  4. Their is a few of the wild plum thickets a long the state line and over in New Mexico. I still get asked if there is any plums each year on them. Most people of this area stay away from them due to the rattlesnakes that like those areas also. The jam is really good for those brave enough to brave the snakes. John Tucker

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    • Re: whyilovewesttexas Grinning… I was a young boy then but I don’t recall snakes being a problem. Of course that may be because the ticks and chiggers had eaten all the snakes! Hope you get a few good July cotton patch rains.

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