Damson Plum Butter
Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime
One of the first memories I had of my grandmother’s cooking growing up was when she and Grandpa had driven up from Texas with a share of food booty around Thanksgiving. Their car was loaded with jars of plum jelly, sealed with paraffin (as they did in those days before we learned better canning methods) and bags full of paper shelled pecans.
It quickly became one of my favorite jellies, and that Grandma had a plum tree and could make enough jelly to feed an army, I ate it all year long. It was great on PBJ and also on toast at breakfast before school.
In later years, my Mom had a plum tree in her backyard during the 1980’s. She became quite adept at making plum jelly and jam herself. And when I would come to her home to visit, she would load me up with jars and jars of whatever she’d been making, and plum was always among that, along with sealed bags of plum juice which she had frozen. It was among some of the first things I had to do canning on my own, and living in a condo at the time with no garden, having anything at all to can without buying it was always a plus.
I have a backyard now and even a garden, but no plum tree unfortunately. But I did see plums at the market and bought a small bag, since I wouldn’t need that much (we are a small family). I pondered what to make with them. Was discussing with my husband if there were actual differences between plum butter and prune butter and neither of us knew at the time. It turns out they are in fact different, with plum butter being made from fresh plums, and prune butter from macerated dried prunes. Well, duh. I guess so! It just gets a little confusing after awhile with prunes being rebranded as dried plums because it is not PC to say the prune word. Well, a dried plum is still a prune, no matter how you sugarcoat it.
And I am not sure why all the fuss about prunes anyway. I mean, I wouldn’t eat them plain myself, but I am not a big fan of just snacking on raisins either. I do like them in baked goods, such as prune cake (which I posted recently) and also hamantashen and as a filling in kringles. Both of the latter are favorites of my husband, who hails from Wisconsin. Apparently the kringles are very big in Racine (WI), and after tasting them on my first visit to the state, I can see why. What’s not to love about Danish pastry?
But anyway. The plum butter in this recipe cooks down very thick and spreadable. I would say it differs from a jam in that it is make from a puree. But they are very close. Not like jelly at all, since that is made from juice. The flavor is bright, like that of a plum, and is not like the flavor of prune filling at all. SO if you don’t like prunes, don’t just write this off. It is not dissimilar from grape jam, but concord grapes have a very distinctive flavor so you can tell those apart.
And as usual, I have a small family and this makes one jar which I just refrigerate. If you have a lot of plums and want to can, go right ahead. Use the typical canning method for fruit butters and your elevation. I have some instructions in an apple butter recipe if you need them.—–>water bath canning
Damson Plum Butter
Makes One Half-Pint
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh pitted damson plums (weigh after removing pits)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Remove pits from plums and place in a saucepan with water; bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.
- Place contents of saucepan when cool into a foley food mill to get a puree; discard solids.
- Return puree to saucepan along with sugar, ginger, cinnamon and lemon juice.
- Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens, keeping a lid partly on during most of the process since it tends to spit as it gets thick. This should take several hours (2-3) depending on evaporation and how much juice the plums had.
- Place into a clean jar and refrigerate.
- Can seal larger quantities using a water bath canning method; refer to a Ball Blue Book or Kerr canning guide for instructions on water baths for fruit butters.
From the kitchen of palatablepastime.com
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