Now that my energy is starting to come back, I find myself in the kitchen more and more. Baking and cooking, developing new recipes, tweaking and perfecting old ones, trying new techniques and experimenting. I have been so … dormant for the past 4 months, I’m having to rediscover my footing. Aside from weeknight dinners, I hadn’t been cooking at all. I didn’t have the strength to stand in front of the stove, carefully watching a roux, or rolling out and shaping a pie crust, or whisking cream to a perfect peak. Anything that took more than 15 minutes start to finish was more than I could handle. But, with time, I’ve been spending more and more time back in the kitchen. A little here, a little there. I feel like I’m finding my stride again.
And in perfect time too. Our many fruit trees have entered their harvest, and we have more lemons and plums and apples than we know what to do with. Last weekend, Shawn came in from the backyard with about 50 red plums. Sweet and fragrant and perfectly ripe. We gave a few away to friends, ate a few for dessert, and found ourselves with dozens more and no idea of what to do with them. I decided that that was the perfect time to get started on preserves.
I chose preserves instead of a jam or jelly because I didn’t want to mess pectin. A simple recipe that I could put together in an afternoon. I had bought a set of Ball jars about a month ago, so it was just a matter or prepping them for canning.
This is a great recipe for anyone new to preserves and canning. Deceptively simple. Fresh, ripe plums transform into a sweet, syrupy spread. Cinnamon and allspice add a little spicy zip on the finish. Brown sugar creates more of depth than just white sugar. Summer fruit with an autumn spice.
What have you been doing with your seasonal fruit this summer? THG
Spiced Plum Preserves
3 lbs. fresh red plums
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
zest and juice of 1 small lemon
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp. whole allspice
Prep and sterilize 4 500ml canning jars according to directions.
Remove stone and slice plums into 1/2 inch thick slices. Place in a large sauce pot. Add sugar, brown sugar, lemon zest and juice and mix well. Place cinnamon stick and allspice in a large piece of cheesecloth and tie the ends, creating a bundle. Add to the plum mixture.
On medium-high heat, bring plum mixture to a rolling boil. Boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer pot until mixture reaches 220-230F and passes setting point test (to test setting point, place a small amount of cooked liquid on a plate and put in freezer for about 3 minutes. If the mixture doesn’t run when removed from freezer, it’s ready. If it still runs, continue to cook for another 5 minutes and test again). When mixture is ready, remove spice bag and spoon into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch space between the preserves and the top of the jar. Wipe down the neck and screw on the lid, finger-tight. Submerge in boiling water 15 minutes to process. Let cool to room temperature. Store in a cool, dry space. After opening preserve, store in the refrigerator.
Makes approximately 2 liters of preserves.