Where my husband works there are eight plum trees that bear lots of fruit, but usually no one picks the plums and they fall to the ground for the deer and bugs to eat. My hubby and I loaded up the kids early one Saturday morning with baskets and a step ladder in hand to go and forage some of these sweet baby plums. When we arrived the branches of the trees were full of plums and many branches hung low due to the weight. Some plums were so small they resembled large cherries, but one bite into a plum sent a sweet tarty flavor over your taste buds.
We picked plums for several hours, even our kids got involved in the process of picking and eating them too. We had fun as a family and picked enough plums to can and make jelly.
Canning plums is quite easy and there are several ways to do it by making jam, canning the plums to eat as fruit or even making sauces out of them. My hubby and I choose to make jam and to can the plums whole with the pits. We also made ice-cube trays full of juice pulp to use in smoothies. Follow these steps for beautiful, delicious, and stunning canned plums.
How to make your very own low-sugar plum jam:
8 tablespoons of Ball® Low or No Sugar Needed Pectin (if not available then use another brand, but double-check recipe conversions)
6 2/3 cups of crushed plums (my husband and I put plums in a big pot and use a potato masher to mash them. Then we put them in cheese cloth to strain and squeeze out as much of the pulpy juice as possible while we kept the skins and pits from the fruit mixture)
1 2/3 cups of no sugar added apple or white grape juice
2 cups of white sugar
2. Boil about 15 flats in small saucepan with water. Turn off heat until ready to use, but make sure they remain somewhat hot.
3. Place ingredients into large sauce pan or pot and heat to a low boil. Stir frequently to prevent sticking and burning.
4. You can add half a teaspoon of margarine or butter to help prevent foaming. Skim of any foam off with spoon that does develop, but total removal is not necessary.
5. Boil plum mixture for about ten minutes, then remove from heat.
6. Spread out towel on counter. Remove one hot jar at a time with salad tongs or some other utensil, and set upright onto towel. Be careful to not have any drafts from windows or fans nearby. Hot jars are very sensitive to temperature changes.
7. With a soup ladle, fill the half pint jars with hot berry mixture until about one-quarter inch (one centimeter) from top.
8. Repeat previous step to fill all jars.
9. Wipe rim of jars with clean damp cloth.
10. Place hot flats on top of each jar.
11. Place rings on jars and tighten to finger tightness.
12. Invert jars upside down for about ten minutes. This will help to kill any bacteria or other microorganisms that could have come into contact with the underside of the flat while placing it on the jar or from the cloth used to clean spillage on the rim. After this inversion time, return jars upright and allow to fully cool.
13. Over the next hour, you will hear jars make a popping sound as the flats seal. After all jars reach room temperature, tap each jar with a butter knife or spoon. A nice metallic ringing sound indicates a good seal. A dull thumping metallic sound indicates lack of seal. Also, you can sometimes see raised flats on jars that are not sealed. If any jars do not seal (this is relatively infrequent), then simply refrigerate and use the jam over the next few days to couple of weeks.
14. This recipe makes about 10-12 half-pint jars of plum jam. The extra jars are in case the recipe makes more than expected.
This jam will be a staple at your breakfast table to put on your toast, pancakes, or waffles. Hope you enjoy this recipe and make your own jam soon.
How to can your own low-sugar whole plums:
Lots of plums, if they are large, you may want to remove the seeds and slice into quarters or halves.
1 to 2 cups of sugar per 10 cups of water.
1 teaspoon of Ball® Fruit-Fresh® Produce Protector per cup of water (I add a little extra to account for the sugar volume).
1. Mix together the sugar water and Ball® Fruit-Fresh® and heat to a low boil while stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool down to at least a temperature whereby you can touch the side of the pan without burning yourself. I prepare this solution a couple of hours ahead of my actual canning and let it cool while I pack all the jars.
2. Boil flats (lids) in water for about a minute and keep them warm until the jars are filled.
3. Pack plums into washed quart jars until they are about 3/4 inch from the top rim of the jar.
4. Pour in the sugar water until the liquid comes to about 1/2 inch from the top rim of the jar.
5. Slide a knife down the side of the jar to allow any trapped air. Top off with a little more sugar water to maintain the 1/2 inch level from the top rim.
6. Place flats onto jars. Place a ring over the flat and tighten with fingers. Do not over-tighten the rings. Finger snug is good enough.
7. Place jars into large canning pot and cover with water until they are submerged about one inch.
8. Heat jars to a boil. Maintain a low rolling boil for 20 minutes and then remove from heat.
9. Allow to stand submerged for at least 5-10 minutes. I prefer to go about 15 minutes before lifting from the water bath.
10. Make sure there are no air drafts in the room. Slowly lift jars from the water bath until you can hook the rack onto the sides of the pot. Allow the jars to cool for about 5 more minutes before removing them entirely from the pot.
11. Place jars gently onto towels spread onto a table or counter and allow to cool to room temperature.
12. Over the next hour, you will hear jars make a popping sound as the flats seal. After all jars reach room temperature, tap each jar with a butter knife or spoon. A nice metallic ringing sound indicates a good seal. A dull thumping metallic sound indicates lack of seal. Also, you can sometimes see raised flats on jars that are not sealed. If any jars do not seal (this is relatively infrequent), then simply refrigerate and use the jam over the next few days to couple of weeks.
If you want to U-Pick with your family here are some helpful resources and links to get you canning in your kitchen too.
About.com (For farms in New England area)
FieldTrip.com (For Farms PA, NJ, NY)
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