My favorite things to can are fruit. I love eating home canned fruit over cottage cheese, pies from my canned fruit pie fillings on a cold winter day, slathering fruit jellies and jams on my toast, or drinking fruit juice over ice, in smoothies or as a sweetener in tea! I know my fruit comes from organic sources (usually my own trees or bushes) and if I add a sweetener I add very little organic sugar or honey, so the food is as healthy as possible. Our Santa Rosa Plum tree always seems to produce more plums than we can consume. Between making Plum Butter, Plum Cobbler, Plum jelly and Plum Sauce, I still can’t use up all the plums. And now my neighbors pretend they aren’t home anymore when we walk up with yet another bag of plums! 😉
I inherited an Oster Juicer from my father a few years ago. I don’t really think he ever used it, but he inherited the juicer from his mother, who used it a lot! The juicer is old (1980’s) but still works very well. Rather than cook the plums to make them release all the juice, I decided to try using the juicer.
Dear hubby Ray volunteered (yes, yes he did!) to help wash and pit the plums, while I fed them through the juicer. This machine lets a lot of the pulp through, along with the juice, which I don’t mind. After all, that’s where all of the fiber is! We worked in tandem, Ray pitting and me juicing, until we had enough juice to fill five quart jars plus some. Once we got a rhythm going, it didn’t take long. After we had all the juice we wanted for this batch, I added 1 teaspoon of organic sugar for each quart (Santa Rosa Plums can be quite tart), then heated the juice up on the stove until it reached 180 degrees, and kept it at that temperature for 5 minutes. This pasteurizes the juice and makes sure there aren’t any harmful pathogens in the juice. Don’t boil the juice – that’s not necessary and breaks down too many of the nutrients! Also, I was using the hot pack method (which is the safest when canning juice) and so I needed the juice to be hot.
To prepare the jars, I like to fill them to the brim with hot water and place them all in the microwave. Microwave just until the water boils, and then leave the jars in the microwave until you are ready for them. This sterilizes the jars and keeps them piping hot while you are preparing the juice!
Now, pour the hot juice into hot jars.
It used to be that when you made jams or jellies or hot packed fruits and juices, it was okay not to finish processing in a water bath canner. The thought was that if you inverted the hot liquid for just a few seconds onto the jar lid, it would be sterilized, and the heat from the fruit and/or juice itself would be sufficient enough to form a good seal. Well, that’s not the case anymore. Now it is recommended that everything canned go through the recommended amount of time in a water bath canner (unless, of course, you are canning low acid foods which need to be pressure canned). That’s okay with me since I realized that canning outside on a cool morning is a very enjoyable task. I use my turkey fryer that my husband and I received for Christmas (thanks Matt and Wendy) several years ago. It’s great for water bath canning, and my new pressure canner also fits into the base!
Once your hot jars are packed with the hot juice, you have placed your hot lids on with the screw band, place them in a hot water bath canner and process both pints and quarts for 15 minutes.
That’s it! Done! Now the juice is ready for a cold winter morning. Or, perhaps a hot summer day over ice! Of course, it’s also great in a smoothie or added to iced tea as a sweetener and flavor enhancer. I will be canning several more batches of this plum juice in the coming week. I just hate seeing the plums fall to the ground and go to waste, and this is a much better solution.
And now our neighbors might speak to us again! 😉
So – what do you do with all of that left-over plum pulp? Well, you can feed it to your chickens or hogs – they would love it. Or, you could make delicious plum butter! I found a great way to make plum butter in the crockpot. It is easy to do and tastes soooo good. For the recipe and instructions on how to make Crock Pot Plum Butter – CLICK HERE
Thought for the day: Be kind to our earth, ourselves and each other – eat healthy food! Have a wonderful day!
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