While the blackberries and peaches were a bust this year due to a late frost/freeze the Lord has still provided in other areas. The plums and apples are loaded. With the plums ripening quick it is race with the birds to see who can harvest them faster. I think we have both managed to get our fair share. With them so plentiful I really don't mind sharing with the feathered friends.
I spent the weekend making preserves my mothers way. Cooking down pure fruit and sugar slow and easy over a low flame to get all that great natural fruit flavor. No pectin just fruit and sugar and a little lemon juice. This is how my mother made all her preserves. Whether it be figs preserves, pear preserves, peach or strawberry they were all made the same way. The three day method. This was the way her mother made them.
Friday I peeled and sliced 8 cups of plums away from the pits. Then I added 4 cups of sugar and 1/2 cup lemon juice. I let that mixture stand in my non reactive pot for several hours until the sugar had dissolved somewhat. The sugar will draw the juices from the fruit and start to melt and form a liquid. I stirred it every so often.
Now don't forget to add a few slightly less than completely ripe plums to this mixture to help add a little natural pectin for thickening.
Friday night after supper I brought this mixture to a boil on low heat stirring almost constantly to prevent sticking. Once it came to a boil I reduced the heat just a touch and let it boil on a low boil for about 15 minutes. Then I turned it off and let it cool and put the lid on and forgot about it until morning.
Saturday morning I got up and repeated that same process after I had prepared breakfast. Bring it to a boil for 15 minutes let it cool and walk away from it. You can see in the photo it is starting to thicken.
Saturday night after supper I again repeated the same process. By this time it is really thickening and I keep the heat really low and stir constantly. The preserves are starting to sheet away from a metal spoon. Again I cool it and walk away.
Sunday morning the preserves were at the exact consistency after they had cooled the night before that I wanted. If not I could have cooked them again that day for a time or two. If you like your preserves thinner don't cook them as many times. If you want your preserves not as chunky cut your fruit smaller. The bottom line if you cook sugar and fruit long enough it is going to thicken as long as you don't burn it. If you over cook it this will set up like glue. Remember it is always a little thicker when it cools. Once you do this a few times you will develop a knack for telling when your preserves are at the exact stage of thickening that your family likes.
I brought my plum preserves just to a boil and let it boil for about 5 minutes to heat it completely through and put it in hot jelly jars and put hot caps and lids on them.
I put my jars into the hot water bath canner and brought it back to a boil and processed them for 10 minutes to again heat them through and get everything good and hot. Then I took my jars out and let them cool. This made 8 half pint jelly jars of beautiful preserves with a small jelly jar left over that I just put in the fridge for everyone to sample.
And for the last 40 years that is how I have made preserves.
My family loves it thick with lots of chunks of fruit and it makes great peanut butter sandwiches. I'll only make a couple of these batches because we just don't eat much jam and preserves any more but I like to have some for when we want a little something sweet on that buttered toast or biscuit. Raspberry preserves made like this makes a great filling between cake layers.
When I was a child my mother made the best fig preserves from the fig tree in our back yard. She would bake homemade biscuits and my father would split those biscuits and put those thick fig preserves on those biscuit halves and then drizzle the preserves with fresh thick cream from that jersey cow we milked. This is truly a taste to remember even decades later. Who needed fancy desserts.
Sunday the neighbor came over and I gave her the recipe and a 5 gallon bucket of plums to go with it. May as well share the blessings.
Blessings from The Holler
The Canned Quilter