The plums were used to create Nutty Plum Conserve... here's what I did...
...and chopped 2 cups walnuts (pecans could be used, I had walnuts on hand)
|Is this not the cutest little nut chopper!? It belonged to|
Mr. G's mother and I am now proud to use it!
6-3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 cups raisins
2 Tbsp. orange zest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (the juice of one orange)
1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
I brought the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, then reduced the heat and boiled gently, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickened (about 35 minutes).
I then stirred in the 2 cups of chopped walnuts...
...and continued boiling gently for another 5 minutes. Then tested the mixture for gel.
To test for gel stage, you can do one of three things... 1) using a candy thermometer, cook soft spread until it reaches 220 degrees F. 2) The Sheet Test... dip a cold spoon into the mixture, lift it and hold horizontally so the syrup runs off the edge, it's ready when the syrup runs off in a sheet instead of drops. or 3) Chill a saucer in the freezer and place a teaspoonful of the syrup on the saucer and freeze for one minute. Remove from the freezer and push the mixture with your finger... if it is gelled, it will be set and the surface will will wrinkle when the edge is pushed.
Once the mixture had reached gel stage, I began filling my hot, sterilized half pint jars, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace, removing air bubbles as necessary and adding more conserve as needed to adjust headspace. I wiped the jar rims with a damp cloth and tightened on my hot lids and bands to fingertip tightness.
I processed the jars of conserve in a boiling water bath, ensuring they were completely covered with water. I brought the water to a boil and processed for 10 minutes.
After processing, I waited 5 minutes, then removed the jars from the canner using my jar lifter and set them on a folded dish towel on the counter to cool... and to listen for the PING of each successfully sealed jar.
The recipe I used said it would make about 8 eight-ounce jars... I ended up with 10.
I took some jars of this soft spread to the ladies I work with... one of the ladies came in the next morning and told me she opened her jar to taste it... and "forget toast or a bagel! I ate about a fourth of the jar just with a spoon, it was so good!" I call that "success in canning!"
For a printable copy of this recipe click here.
Please feel free to check out the following websites and resources:
The Art of Canning - uga.edu
Culinary and Food Reception - ciachef.edu
Reception Furniture - beyondtheofficedoor.com
Reception Furniture for Food Halls - maine.edu
For more information on the Washington State Fruit Commission go to www.sweetpreservation.com