Back in the day when I was an Earth Mother – and I have the pictures to prove it: portly frame sitting between rows of tomatoes and squash…anyway, back in the day, I did all sorts of canning and preserving. There were peach preserves with rum, cherry conserve with walnuts. I stored them in the basement, and gave the little jars as gifts with fancy labels and calico wrapped around their tops. I still have the canner stored downstairs.
But this time, I didn’t feel like fussing with the canner, and I wanted to use up as many plums as possible. So I experimented with refrigerator jam. It made about 5 cups of jam. I put it in little one cup containers. I gave two to friends, froze two for later, and used one up. I put it on toast and bagels, stirred it into my oatmeal, and even used a spoonful or two as a glaze on chicken. It is actually kind of jewel like in color – although it didn’t photograph particularly well.
Most of the recipes I looked at to get ideas called for 3-4 cups of sugar. I reduced it to 2 cups, and it was still very, very sweet.
Orange Plum Preserves
4 pounds ripe Italian/prune plums, pitted and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup orange juice
2 cups sugar
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoons orange zest (confession – I used dried grated orange peel from a bottle)
Combine plums and orange juice in a heavy pan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes or until plums are tender. Stir in sugar, lemon juice, and zest. Cook over medium heat 40 minutes, until thick or a candy thermometer reaches 210°. Stir mixture occasionally. (Do not overcook or mixture will scorch.) NOTE: My mixture took more like and hour and a half to get to 210. You really need to keep stiring frequently as it begins to thicken or it definitely will scorch and you’ll have to throw it all out. I lowered the heat toward the end. I also found that the candy/jelly thermometer was really the way to go, as I couldn’t judge if it was thick enough. Remove from heat and cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freeze. This has no fat.
And that, my dear, is finally the end of the plums!