Tuesday’s Tips — Canning Plums #2

Barbara: Apologies for this VERY late post. I meant to do it right after I raked the leaves and mowed the lawn Tuesday morning, but I was an idiot. The weather has been beastly in Southern California for the last few days. On Monday it was 107 and yesterday it was 93. It seemed cooler Tuesday morning and, besides, I had work to do and I wasn’t going to let a little heat and humidity stop me. And even though I felt kind of awful, I kept telling myself to buck up and push through. So I ended up with heat exhaustion and I couldn’t focus on anything for the rest of the day. Stupid, really stupid!

Now that I can comprehend what’s in front of my eyes again, Mary Beth and I want to share two more plum canning recipes. The first one is a deliciously old-fashioned plum conserve — an old family recipe handed down from our other grandmother. The second is a recipe for plum jam Mary Beth made that didn’t thicken properly. All was not lost though. As you will see, even your “mistakes” can be used in creative ways that will make you look like a star.

There’s one very important caveat with all this experimenting. You should know, and we mean really know, canning basics. There are things you can do that will make canning recipes your own special version and there are things that you can do that might make you, or anyone eating your preserves, sick. You need to know the difference. Go to the National Center for Food Preservation for extensive information on canning safety, recipes, etc. There are many good canning books, but the first one on your list should be the Ball Complete Guide to Home Preserving.

Grandmother Hobe’s Plum Conserve

  • 11 cups (5 lbs) Italian prune plums
  • 2 oranges, halved or quartered and sliced thin (depending on how big you want the rind slices to be in finished conserve, quartered seems best)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • Juice of 1 lemon

  1. Wash, pit and quarter plums (or cut smaller depending on size of fruit). Place in large pan with sugar and raisins.
  2. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Do not add any water, the juices will release as the fruit heats up.
  3. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, stirring frequently to prevent seizing. Be careful, the thicker the conserve gets, the more the danger of seizing.
  4. When it begins to thicken up, test with “quick cool test” for the right consistency. Put a couple of small saucers in the freezer. When the mixture seems thickened remove pan from heat, take a little of the liquid and put it on one of the cold saucers. Put this in the freezer for about 3 minutes. Take it out and pull your finger through the liquid. The sides of the divided puddle should move very slowly back towards each other. This test gives you a pretty good idea of how the final product will be. You may have to put the pan back on to boil and repeat this a couple of times to get to the right consistency.
  5. When properly thickened stir in lemon juice and walnuts.
  6. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars and process 10 minutes adding 2 minutes for every 1,000 feet above sea level.

Makes approx. 9 – 10 half pints.

Mary Beth: I made plum jam that didn’t thicken properly, but it was still delicious and I’ve been looking for ways to use it when I’m baking. A couple of days ago I made a peach crisp and I threw in a jar of this jam. The crisp recipe called for sugar to be added to the peaches, but because the jam was so sweet, I decided to leave out that sugar (I still used sugar in the crisp topping). It was really yummy. I plan to use my soupy jam in fruit bars and any other bake good that calls for a fruit filling.

Autumn Fruit Jam

(from Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving)

  • 5 plums, sliced
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped.
  • 2 medium pears, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp each: ground cinnamon and ginger
  1. Combine fruit, water, lemon rind and lemon juice in a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes or until fruit is softened.
  2. Add sugar to fruit and return to a boil, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Boil rapidly, uncovered, until mixture jells, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in cinnamon and ginger.
  3. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars and process 10 minutes adding 2 minutes for every 1,000 feet above sea level.

Makes 4 cups

Variations:

  • Replace cinnamon and ginger with 1 tbsp vanilla extract added to cooked jam just before bottling.
  • For Nectarine Plum Apple Jam use 4 nectarines, peeled and chopped, instead of pears.
  • I also had good results with this recipe using 7 plums and 3 medium apples.

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