Thursday, September 13, 2007

Damson Plum and Sweet Crabapple Preserves

Our big box of plums and crabapples from Maine presented the perfect opportunity to try something new. So,
as part of my current efforts to improve my preserving skills, I recently cooked up my very first jar of properly-canned preserves!

Before I started, I read through a slew of recipes and settled on a combination of the easiest basic techniques. I also made sure that at least one of my chosen fruits- the crabapples, in this case- has naturally high pectin levels, since pectin gives preserves their characteristic thick, gelled consistency.

This was my first solo attempt at this form of preserving, so
I was aiming for a small, manageable batch... and I was ready to change my expectations (sauce for ice cream, anyone?) if anything went wrong. Happily, the preserves turned out beautifully thick, with a nicely balanced sweet-tart flavour.

Since we ended up with a little over a pint, I've been able to try the extra ladlefuls a few different ways without opening our one sealed jar.

I'm saving this jar of preserves for the dead of winter, when we're craving something a bit different. A welcome change from our usual grape jelly (L) and sweet orange marmalade (me), this is fabulous spread on toast
or stirred into plain yogurt. I bet it would make a lovely layered cake filling, too.

Damson Plum and Sweet Crabapple Preserves

makes approximately 1 pint

1 1/2 pounds sweet crabapples*, cored and roughly chopped
1 pound damson plums, pitted
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

Put the crabapples, plums and water into a heavy, nonreactive pot. Turn heat to low and simmer, uncovered and stirring often (check the bottom of the pot for sticking and/or burning), until the fruit is very soft and the mixture is thick and pulpy (approximately 2 hours).

Remove fruit mixture from heat and process, into a medium-sized bowl, with a food mill set with the smallest-holed plate. Process until you have a small amount of fairly dry solids remaining in the food mill (this should be mostly fruit peels). Discard these solids.

Put the fruit pulp back into the pot. Add lemon juice and sugar. Taste and correct for sugar, until preserves are as tart or sweet as you like.

Bring to a boil and let boil for 2 minutes. Pack into container(s), refrigerate, and consume within one week, or freeze and consume within one year.

If you wish to keep the preserves in your pantry, fill dry, sterilized jars (they should still be hot from the sterilization process) with the preserves and seal with sterilized caps. Process using a boiling water canner or pressure canner. Most guides say that properly canned preserves can be stored in a dark, cool place for up to a year.**

* You can use regular tart crabapples as well- just increase the sugar, to taste.

**NOTE: Canned foods can harbor toxic bacteria, mold and yeast. Please be sure that you follow safe canning practices (click here for a good start).


Kerstin said...

Out of curiosity, where did you get the damson plums?

la petite gourmande said...

Hi Kerstin,

We got them from our friends' family in Maine! They have a lovely (and huge) orchard. I aspire.

Kerstin said...

Thanks! Your friend's farm looks absolutely gorgeous. I've been looking for them here in New England. I will have to ask around at the farmers in our markets in Boston. I have a lovely family recipe for a German-style Kuchen that I want to use them for.

la petite gourmande said...

That sounds lovely! I actually saw them at Russo's (in Watertown) this past Friday, so you might still be able to get them. They're great if you call ahead, too, just to be sure (before making a trip).

Kerstin said...

Thank you! I will check them out this week!

la petite gourmande said...

We're going back this week, too, so I will keep an eye out for you! That's my favourite place to find unusual fruits and vegetables.