Windfall of Plums
A friend dropped by on Sunday afternoon with two big bags of freshly picked Italian Prune Plums from his tree. “Do I want these?” he asks. There goes my Monday morning plans, I think to myself, now replaced with canning plums…
I’m going to carry on writing about my home canning experiences in tip form since tips are just that…tips. Nothing you have to do, or must do. Tips are suggestions…take em’ or leave em’….(tips #1-4 found in Canning Peaches entry)
Tip #5 – You are the Master of Your Canning Domain
It’s nice to read in the canning recipe books that 2 -2.5 pounds of plums will give you a 1 litre jar of canned plums. But how does one figure out how many jars one needs when a neighbour drops off 2 large bags of plums and there is no access to a scale?
This is where you get to decide how many jars of home canned goods you’d like to have at the end of your canning session. I knew my brother would be interested in canning plums at a later date so I thought 18 – 500 ml jars would be a reasonable amount to can up right now. I figured any plums left over from the 18 jars could be shared amongst immediate eats, stewed plums and plum coffee cake. Just because someone gives you all these plums - you still control the amount you home can.
Tip #6 – How Sweet it Is
I like to hot pack my prune plums. Hot pack process basically means putting hot product into hot jars. So I placed clean halved, pitted plums (with skins on) in a heated simple syrup, brought it to a boil for 5 minutes and then turned the heat off and let it sit it for 30 minutes with the lid on (to maintain the heat). This allows for the plums and simple syrup to fuse together to create one heck of a delicious juice. The plums are canned in this simple syrup. This plum syrup is also delicious to use as a concentrated plum juice. My kids like the syrup with hot water in the winter and with cold water in the summer.
The sweetness is up to you. Remember, what makes canning fruit safe is following a tested recipe and using the correct processing time. The amount of sugar added to home canned fruit is up to you. Using our guide for canning syrups, I know my family prefers a light syrup so I used 4½ cups of water to 1¼ cups of sugar. I multipied this number by five and ended up with 22.5 cups of simple syrup.
Tip #7 – Cool is Not Cool
This is key. Hot product in a hot jar. If you find your clean jars have cooled off – dip them in your boiling water bath before filling them. Works like a charm.
Tip #8 – A Clean Wet Cloth is a Fruit Canner’s Best Friend
Canning with fruit can be a sticky experience. Not a bad thing really…until it comes to placing your lids on the filled jars. It is crucial that you wipe the very tippy top of your jars with a clean wet cloth before you place the newly softened lid on the top of the filled jar. Being slightly obsessive, I wipe once with a clean wet cloth then move the cloth in my fingers so I have access to a clean spot on the cloth and wipe the rim again. Then I take a clean dry cloth and wipe the top dry. Then I place the sealer(also known as a lid) on the jar. Some folks are fine with one wet wipe around. I’m a two time wet wiper!
The reason it is crucial to have a clean jar rim is that a sticky rim could compromise your seal. If the jar rim is really sticky, the lid may stick to the jar and this may interfer with a proper seal. You want the jar to release the air during the boiling water bath process. That is why we use a boiling water bath in the first place. We want all the air vented out of the jar so that there is no breeding ground for bacteria in the home canned goods.
Tip #9 – Let it Be
After you pull the jars out of the boiling water bath – let them be. Resist the urge to touch, hug, poke and move these jars. Ideally, all home canned goods should be left alone for the first 24 hours to allow for final sealing to take place. Some jars seal right away – you may hear a pop sound shortly after they are out of the boiling water bath, or notice that the lid is concave. Some lids seal a few hours after they have been taken out of the boiling water bath. That’s okay too.
Generally if I can one day I will wait until the next morning to check all the lids. I do so by pressing my finger into the lid. If there is no sound or movement – it’s sealed. If there is sound and movement – you can reseal(do it all over again) or put in fridge and consume right away. If you do it all over again – take the product out of the jar, clean the jar, heat the jar, heat the product, put hot product into hot jar, wipe jar rim, add a brand new lid (you can use the old screwtop) and re-process in boiling water bath.
I have never resealed since I have never had enough jars not seal to convince me to go through it all again. One or two jars in a batch of 24 – my kids would eat ‘em in a heartbeat!