Sunday, August 30, 2009

What To Do WIth An Abundance Of Plums

Look at these!


I didn't even pick half of the plums that were on the tree but I ran out of time and ended up with two boxes. I didn't think it was very much until I started using them and the boxes NEVER seemed to look any emptier.

We ate lots of the plums fresh until I finally had to let the kids know what would happen to their bowels if they didn't stop. And then I was faced with what to do with them all. I didn't want to run to the store for supplies but I wanted to preserve them in a way I knew they would get used. I had no pectin or sure jell. All I had was a bunch of canning jars and lids, lots of sugar and two never ending boxes of plums.

So I came up with this simple recipe for Plum Butter that required nothing but plums and sugar....no water....no pectin....no peeling the plums. My kind of lazy recipe.

So here's how I did it.

First I threw a bunch of canning jars into the dishwasher to sterilize them and get them hot.

While those were washing I started the process of preparing the plums. I washed and sliced out the pits and threw the fruit in my giant pot, skin and all.

Then I boiled it all down until it was just a pulp. The skins dissolved and it became all juicy with just a bit of soft fruit chunks. All that juice and remember...I added no water.


Next I added sugar to taste. Plums are pretty tart so the ratio of sugar that I liked was for every pound of plums I used one cup of sugar. That still left them slightly tart.


Then I boiled and stirred...boiled and stirred until it began to thicken and condense. I could feel the tug on my spoon and even though it was still much runnier than you would picture a butter to turn out, I knew that as it cooled it would gel up even more.

I got out my hot canning jars from the finished dishwasher cycle and poured in the plum butter leaving about 1/4 to 1/2 inch at the top.



I wiped the rims clean and put the lids on REALLY tight.

Here's where I cheat and do the canning like my grandma did. Most people would process the jars in a water bath but if there's an easier way than that's how I do it. Cause I'm lazy like that. Just turn your very hot, tightly sealed jars upside down on your counter top. Let them cool completely that way and when they are cooled, turn them over and check the seal.



The top of the lid should be completely sucked in. If you push on the center dot of the lid and it gives, than your jars have not sealed properly. I've never had that happen but if it did than those jars would go into the freezer and get used first.


I preferred the consistency of the plum butter much more than the results I get from using a jell or pectin to make jam or jelly. I opened one jar after it cooled and of course had to test it out. It was naturally firm, almost creamy and easily spreadable. So now we have thick tart plum butter for our toast and biscuits all winter. Yum!
*****The USDA does not recommend this canning method. And while I've never had problems doing it this way please use caution and proceed at your own risk. (Oooh, that sounds ominous doesn't it.)

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now if I only knew how to save the fresh sweet love of watermelon to last all winter, any ideas? :o)

♥ Eva

N. said...

I did this exact same thing with peaches this weekend, although I spent all that time peeling ... YUCK! It was literally peaches and sugar. I added a tablespoon of allspice to give it a spicier taste. Yum!! I love plum more, so I will definitely try that next!

Gayle said...

Hmmm...I know you can make watermelon rind pickles, watermelon preserves and jellies. Try googling those. I'm not sure if you can just can watermelon slices though. Anyone else know?

Michelle said...

Well, that's a great idea. Can you use your canning method with anything? You really don't have to use a water bath? That would be awesome because I don't have pots big enough to submerge jars in.

Gayle said...

This has worked with any acidic/water bath canning I've done. I wouldn't use it for non acidic things that normally require a pressure cooker.

Shirley said...

I heard of people making fruit leather out of watermelon. They say its really good and sweet......haven't tried it myself.

Kristin said...

With leftover watermelon - I will pick out the seeds and puree it in the blender and freeze it in freezer baggies or old ice cream buckets and have watermelon slushes in the winter.

Carrie said...

Thats awesome! I'll be using this next year. I give away tons of plums every year because I don't know what to do with them. Canning has always scared me, but I LOVE your easy way! Thanks for sharing!

~Sara said...

Wow! That is alot of plums. My mouth is watering. That looks wonderful.

Susan said...

Sounds delicious!
I do something similar with plums and make a sauce for ice cream. Tastes great with apricots too.

copperdog said...

Know of anything to do with Asian Pears?

-Heather

Jamie said...

Heather, I dont know about "Asian" pears, but my Bartlett tree last year went crazy! I made preserves, peel core and finely chop 8 to 10 cups of pears, add 5 cups of sugar a couple of cups of water, pinch of ginger and a slice of lemon (peeled) cook it down until it starts to thicken, mine was about an hour if the pears were really ripe. fill your sterilized jars and let them set. no water bath. super easy, great on anything i've eaten it on. I'm just so sorry my tree froze this year in full bloom. i dont think we'll even get one pear!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm....I need a bigger yard for a fruit tree or two.

Andrea

Michelle said...

Gayle~ So I could use this method with tomatoes?

Gayle said...

Yes! The key is hot jars and hot liquid inside the jar. Also it needs to be an acidic food like fruits (tomatoes) or pickles.

momofEAP said...

I have made jelly using canned juice and have never used hot jars. I have never had an issue with them not sealing. I have got to find some good cheap fruit! Thanks for the tips.

The Prudent Homemaker said...

I'll have to remember the idea to make plum butter next year (I made pear butter last year with sugar and spices--like apple butter). I have a Green Gage plum tree and it should start to give me a good number of plums next year.

I really want to make homemade plum sauce with them, though . . .

Anonymous said...

Gayle, I love your great money saving ideas, I use a lot of them in my home.
I do have a word of caution about home canning. I just attended a refresher class on home canning and they gave very strong words of caution on the way you did your butter. While it is usually safe for jams and jellies, it is NOT safe for other things ie tomatoes and peaches. Like you said, it is definately not safe for low acid foods. Some websites they gave as references are: www.homefoodpreservation.com and the USDA Complete Guide to Canning (I lost the web address for this but you can just do a Google search and it will find it for you)
Sorry to be such a downer on your comments page, I am just kind of OCD when it come to safe home canning!
Kim

Kari said...

I process jams that way too. What can I say...that's the way grandma did it! (Actually, when I was little she'd pour parafin over the top to give a waxy seal--I still remember loving to lick the jam of that wax and then throw it in the coffee tin to be remelted next year) I did have one jar of apple butter that I had to throw out after it had been in my pantry for about six months without being sealed well (I checked it, but ooops! it was obviously bad) Glad to know other people "risk" the wrath of the USDA like I do.
Kari

copperdog said...

I just noticed the really cool glass funnel you are using. Where did you get it??

-Heather

Gayle said...

It was my grandmothers and when she stopped canning I got all her stuff. Isn't it neat?