Plums

Does anyone else have a glut of plums I wonder.  It’s that time of year.  I’ve been lucky enough to get greengages, that wonderful plum with an exquisite flavour like no other.  I preserved quite a lot over the last week or so and made a batch of jam, and now I’m looking for more.  There are other varieties around to wrok with though.  I love cherry plums, not so much for bottling as their skins tend to stay bitter, no matter how strong the sugar syrup or the length of time in the bottles.  One of my favourite jams, a close second ot third to raspberry or greengage, is yellow cherry plum jam.

However, other than cherry plums, I bottle any plums I can get my hands on.  They are excellent for breakfast with cereal or yoghurt, or as a simple warming winter pudding, warmed through and served with custard.  You can drain them and remove the stone, then put them on top of a tea cake or butter cake before baking.  When the cake comes from the oven, simply brush the top with a little melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and the cake is transformed from the ordinary to something extrordinary,  almost continental.

Plums, especially cherry plums come to think of it, make excellent cordial syrup.  I can put this recipe up if anyone wants it, as well as a plum jam recipe – just let me know.

However, for the moment I thought the most useful thing would be the method for preserving plums.  If you don’t have a preserving outfit (such as Fowlers Vacola make), you can still preserve on the stovetop in a very large pot with a lid.  In that case, you need to put a rack in the bottom and a thermometer to check the temperature.  Also if using a pot on the stove, you need to put a layer of newspaper between the bottles to stop them clanging together.  A preserving outfit is well worth the outlay, trust me – it makes preserving so simple.

By the way, it’s best nt to remove the stones before bottling – otherwise the pretty much turn to mush on the jar, which is ok if you are aiming for stewed plums of course.

Bottled Plums

  • Place rings on clean preserving jars (if using Fowlers bottles)
  •  Choose and make the selected preserving syrup** (see below)
  •  Layer the plums neatly and firmly in bottles
  • Pour the selected preserving liquid over the plums right to the brim
  • Place lids on jars and secure with clips, or if using screw top jars, screw lids on, then release just slightly
  • Place in preserving outfit
  • Bring to 85°C, making sure that this takes at least an hour
  • Hold at this temperature for 35 minutes for jars containing up to 12 cups of product, an extra 30 minutes for larger
  • Remove from preserver and place on a wooden board.  If using screw top jars, screw lid on tightly now
  • Leave to stand for 24 hours
  • Remove clips (if using Fowlers jars).  Check that lids are concave
  • Store in a cool, dark place

** The preserving liquid can be water, fruit juice or sugar syrup.  For plums I prefer at least a medium syrup.  Here are three different strengths of syrup – they are only a guide – you can vary it to suit your personal taste.

 

Light Syrup: one part sugar, four parts water

Medium Syrup: one part sugar to two parts water

Heavy Syrup:  equal parts sugar and water.

 

I make this syrup up in a plastic jug.  For a heavy syrup half fill the jug with sugar, add enough boiling water to dissolve the sugar, then fill the remainder of the jug with cold water/.  The syrup is then ready to use.

 

 

25 thoughts on “Plums

  1. Goat Girl says:

    Hi Sally, there is a new preserving unit that I have just bought that much better than my Fowlers Vacola one because its larger, steel not plastic has a concealed element so you can use it for jam making and soups and best of all its a lot cheaper! if you are interested http://www.ozfarmer.com has them.

    Bye for now!
    Heidi

    Like

    • Sally Wise says:

      Hello again Heidi – very appreciative of that link you provided – I contacted Ozfarmer and had a great talk with them about the preserver they sell. I would love to get one to try out. It seems a bit extravagant because I have 4 electric preservers, not to mention an old stove top one, but it is very tempting and will probably succumb to that temptation before long. You can still use vacola bottles or other types of bottles are available. The bottles can be stacked in the preserver and the bottom element is covered so the preserver can be used for other purposes, such as an urn or you can even make jam in it. Fascinating!

      I was interested to see that they have a pressure canner as well. I am often asked about this method of preserving, which is popular in the USA. This would mean that vegetables could be preserved, so it would be a great way for home gardeners to make the most of their seasonal vegetable crops. As you would know, it is no longer recommended to preserve vegetables by the method that previous generations did – i.e. in the Vacola or similar method. The canner is stove top only and can’t be used on a ceramic or induction hotplates, but it seems a gas cooktop would be fine. I am wondering how it would go on a solid electric hotplate. I have a few of those about that I use for cooking demos.

      All in all there are some exciting things happening – very exciting as the interest in preserving continues to increase.

      Sally

      Like

  2. Goat Girl says:

    Hi Sally, there is a new preserving unit that I have just bought that much better than my Fowlers Vacola one because its larger, steel not plastic has a concealed element so you can use it for jam making and soups and best of all its a lot cheaper! if you are interested http://www.ozfarmer.com has them.

    Bye for now!
    Heidi

    Like

    • Sally Wise says:

      Hello again Heidi – very appreciative of that link you provided – I contacted Ozfarmer and had a great talk with them about the preserver they sell. I would love to get one to try out. It seems a bit extravagant because I have 4 electric preservers, not to mention an old stove top one, but it is very tempting and will probably succumb to that temptation before long. You can still use vacola bottles or other types of bottles are available. The bottles can be stacked in the preserver and the bottom element is covered so the preserver can be used for other purposes, such as an urn or you can even make jam in it. Fascinating!

      I was interested to see that they have a pressure canner as well. I am often asked about this method of preserving, which is popular in the USA. This would mean that vegetables could be preserved, so it would be a great way for home gardeners to make the most of their seasonal vegetable crops. As you would know, it is no longer recommended to preserve vegetables by the method that previous generations did – i.e. in the Vacola or similar method. The canner is stove top only and can’t be used on a ceramic or induction hotplates, but it seems a gas cooktop would be fine. I am wondering how it would go on a solid electric hotplate. I have a few of those about that I use for cooking demos.

      All in all there are some exciting things happening – very exciting as the interest in preserving continues to increase.

      Sally

      Like

  3. kirstys says:

    I was interested in your plum post as I was given a couple of bags yesterday and wondering whether to bottle them straight or do jam. I think I’ve decided on straight bottling.

    Last year I bought a Presto pressure canner and have been delighted with being able to do a lot more savoury products, even things like baked beans, meatballs and mexican chilli with meat. In the past I used to put this sort of thing in the freezer and have to remember to defrost them before heading off to work in the morning. Now we can come home and pop open a jar and reheat very quickly on the stovetop. You also aren’t then reliant on the freezer and electricity for storage. I use the Fowlers jars and seals – a nice mix of US pressure canning with an Australian bottling system. more info – http://catogardenfarm.otheredge.com.au/?p=53

    I use mine on a gas cooktop with a heavy cast iron top. I’ve found it takes a while to get up to pressure on my large gas burner. Thinking of our portable electric element, I’m not sure whether they put out enough heat to get it up to pressure in a reasonable amount of time. Once they are at pressure, you only need a tiny amount of heat to keep them going.

    Yesterday I did a batch of mexican chili and the jars are still sitting on the bench.

    Kirsty

    Like

    • Sally Wise says:

      I am so pleased to hear about your pressure canner’s success. For the last week I have been considering buying one – as has been your experience, they expand tremendously the types of products that can be preserved safely. I will definitely by one now, so thanks.

      Re the plums – yes, bottling them is good (I’ve preserved heaps today and have another 10kg blood plums sitting on the bench to deal with tomorrow). I don’t bottle cherry plums as their skin remains sour no matter how strong the syrup is or how long they are in the bottle. Blood plums make a great cordial syrup, exquisite in fact. You can just use a blackcurrant or berry syrup recipe, such as in a couple of my earlier posts – just cook them a little longer than the 15 minutes until they are well broken down. You can make plum paste or “cheese” also (exactly as you do with quinces), which is delicious unto itself made with any type of plum, and all the more so if you add some port to taste. I also make worcestershire sauce with any sort of plum. It keeps for years and is a great addition to caseroles, gravies, meatballs, patties, meatloaf etc – just three to four teaspoonsful makes a huge difference. You can make plum sauce too – an absolute necessity for any cupboard and can be used in many savoury dishes also.

      The only plum jam I like is yellow cherry plum.

      One final thing – blood plums make beautiful jelly. I don’t like the jam much, but the jelly has a number of uses – for instance as a spread on bread, scones or toast, as a filling for jam drops biscuits it is the BEST (it turns into a little lolly in the middle) and you can add a teaspoon to a gravy or jus or to a casserole.

      If you’d like the recipe for the worcestershire sauce, plum sauce or plum paste or cheese, or the blood plum jelly, just let me know and I’ll put them up in a post.

      Regards
      Sally

      Like

  4. kirstys says:

    I was interested in your plum post as I was given a couple of bags yesterday and wondering whether to bottle them straight or do jam. I think I’ve decided on straight bottling.

    Last year I bought a Presto pressure canner and have been delighted with being able to do a lot more savoury products, even things like baked beans, meatballs and mexican chilli with meat. In the past I used to put this sort of thing in the freezer and have to remember to defrost them before heading off to work in the morning. Now we can come home and pop open a jar and reheat very quickly on the stovetop. You also aren’t then reliant on the freezer and electricity for storage. I use the Fowlers jars and seals – a nice mix of US pressure canning with an Australian bottling system. more info – http://catogardenfarm.otheredge.com.au/?p=53

    I use mine on a gas cooktop with a heavy cast iron top. I’ve found it takes a while to get up to pressure on my large gas burner. Thinking of our portable electric element, I’m not sure whether they put out enough heat to get it up to pressure in a reasonable amount of time. Once they are at pressure, you only need a tiny amount of heat to keep them going.

    Yesterday I did a batch of mexican chili and the jars are still sitting on the bench.

    Kirsty

    Like

    • Sally Wise says:

      I am so pleased to hear about your pressure canner’s success. For the last week I have been considering buying one – as has been your experience, they expand tremendously the types of products that can be preserved safely. I will definitely by one now, so thanks.

      Re the plums – yes, bottling them is good (I’ve preserved heaps today and have another 10kg blood plums sitting on the bench to deal with tomorrow). I don’t bottle cherry plums as their skin remains sour no matter how strong the syrup is or how long they are in the bottle. Blood plums make a great cordial syrup, exquisite in fact. You can just use a blackcurrant or berry syrup recipe, such as in a couple of my earlier posts – just cook them a little longer than the 15 minutes until they are well broken down. You can make plum paste or “cheese” also (exactly as you do with quinces), which is delicious unto itself made with any type of plum, and all the more so if you add some port to taste. I also make worcestershire sauce with any sort of plum. It keeps for years and is a great addition to caseroles, gravies, meatballs, patties, meatloaf etc – just three to four teaspoonsful makes a huge difference. You can make plum sauce too – an absolute necessity for any cupboard and can be used in many savoury dishes also.

      The only plum jam I like is yellow cherry plum.

      One final thing – blood plums make beautiful jelly. I don’t like the jam much, but the jelly has a number of uses – for instance as a spread on bread, scones or toast, as a filling for jam drops biscuits it is the BEST (it turns into a little lolly in the middle) and you can add a teaspoon to a gravy or jus or to a casserole.

      If you’d like the recipe for the worcestershire sauce, plum sauce or plum paste or cheese, or the blood plum jelly, just let me know and I’ll put them up in a post.

      Regards
      Sally

      Like

  5. Roseanne says:

    Hi Sally

    Perusing your website on plums, I notice on a post on the 30.1.2012 you said you had a cherry plum cordial syrup. I have just been given a big bag of cherry plums, have made some jam but was very interested in your recipe for the cordial syrup. I was wondering if you could email or post the recipe to your blog site. By the way, I have 4 of your cook books which I love, especially the “Left over Make overs”.

    Thank you and cheers for now.

    Roseanne

    Like

    • Sally Wise says:

      Hi Roseanne – the recipe is simple, pretty much the same as for blackcurrant cordial. If they are red cherry plums the colour of the cordial is sensational. If they are yellow not so much but it will still taste great.

      I will do as you suggest and put up a recipe on my blog (in just a few minutes).

      Like

  6. Julie says:

    I’ve only just discovered your wonderful website, Sally, after reading A Year on the Farm which I loved.

    We’ve taken possession of 24 acres of heaven in Gippsland and amongst other things have stone fruit trees, berries and apples.

    I would love your recipes for plum jam and plum cordial that you mention. You also write about a Monkey Bun which looks divine. Do you have this recipe on your site somewhere?

    Many, many thanks, Julie

    Like

  7. Michael says:

    Would really appreciate your recipe for Greengage Jam. Wondering whether I should add water to the fruit and follow that route, or whether to add half the sugar to the prepared fruit and leave for an hour to draw out the liquid and follow that route. What do you suggest?

    Like

    • Sally Wise says:

      Sure – here is the recipe. I am all for doing it by the simplest method possible. I have made lots of greengage jam this week and it has set perfectly.

      1.8kg greengages
      Half cup water
      Juice 1 lemon or half a teaspoon citric acid
      1.5kg sugar

      Place the greengages in a jam pan or large pot with the water and lemon juice or citric acid. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat and simmer over low heat until the fruit is soft.

      Add the sugar and bring to the boil, stirring. Boil over medium heat (at a fairly brisk boil) for 20 minutes by which time setting point should be reached. You can test by placing a little on a cold saucer and putting it in the freezer unit it cools. if this sample sets, then the jam is ready (take the pan from the heat while the sample is cooling). If it doesn’t boil for 5 minutes more.

      If the jam tends to catch as it cooks, throw in 4 stainless steel forks (truly) – this will help disperse the heat, even helps the jam reach setting point sooner.

      Now you will note that I haven’t removed the pips. Once the jam is cooked, I strain it through a colander. It only takes a couple of minutes, far less time than it would have done to remove the pips from the greengages. Be careful removing those forks by the way – use tongs as they are jolly hot.

      POur the jam into warm sterilised jars and seal immediately.

      Like

  8. PetaL Grub says:

    Hi Sally,

    You mention in a post “[i]f you’d like the recipe for the worcestershire sauce, plum sauce or plum paste or cheese … just let me know and I’ll put them up in a post’.

    I still have plum sauce in the pantry from last year and a glut of plums this year. I am wondering if you are willing to share your plum paste recipe?

    Kind Regards

    PetaL Grub

    Like

    • Sally Wise says:

      Sure Petal – I don’t have time today, but watch this space – I will post it within the next two days. Might even have a photo, if only I could get my hands on some plums ……

      Like

  9. Jasmine ventura says:

    Hi Sally, thank you for all your interesting information, I love preserving. I am just interested to hear your opinion on preserving kits. I am currently using old stove top Fowlers, but was thinking of upgrading to an electric and was interested to know your opinion. The Fowlers professional model have 30% off at the moment, or there is the oz farmer models referred to in link above, I see there is an enamel model or a more expensive Australian made stainless steel one. Did you get a chance to check out the oz farmer models? Your opinion would be gratefully appreciated. Many thanks,
    Jasmine

    Like

    • Sally Wise says:

      Hi Jasmine – I have both models, actually all three as we have a stovetop one as well. The stainless steel Fowlers is the ultimate in preservers. Mind you, the OZFarmer one does the same job quite adequately, but it does not have the capacity to take the tallest Fowlers bottles. They are much cheaper though as I recall. Regards, Sally

      Like

      • Jasmine ventura says:

        Hi Sally, thank you for your reply and I appreciate how busy you are at this time of year. Sorry to trouble you again but In regards to the Fowlers stainless steel preserver is there a particular ‘era’ of preserver that is best or are the new ones just as good as the golden oldies. I’ve seen second hand ones for sale with the black plastic lids, blue lids and the metal lids. But with the 30% off new ones at the moment I’m tempted to get a new one if you think they still have their same great quality.
        Also, if you’re interested, and I’m sure you probably already do something similar, I freeze bags of 2kg plums whole, so I can make sauce/jam etc at a later date when not so hectic. They freeze beautifully, don’t even stick together, and so easy to use when ready.
        Happy preserving, jasmine

        Like

  10. Jo Bumpsted says:

    Hi Sally, I’ve just wandered past the Green Gauge plum. Oh my God…… can you share your green gauge plum jam recipe ? and anything else for that matter that you can think of doing with the green gauges ?

    Thanks so much.
    Jo

    Like

  11. pam thomasson says:

    thank you for your website. Excuse my ignorance but when talking about preserving plums and you mention part sugar part water how much sugar exactly do you use.

    Like

    • Sally Wise says:

      Anything from equal parts sugar and water to just plain water, according to personal taste. Plain water will mean your preserves are very sour though.

      Like

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