I have plums! Boy, do I have plums. Don’t get me wrong here, it is an amazing, wonderful blessing. Harvest time has hit! What do I do with it all? And how to balance blog, kids and this beautiful abundance…. time for some preserving experimentation.

Loads of Plums

Loads of Plums

This is what I have this morning AFTER  giving a couple 5 gallon buckets worth away and processing another couple 5 gallon buckets worth. Oh My! I can’t look at this picture for too long….They sit there on the counter calling me…. “Why are you at the computer typing? Come save us from rotting!”

What do I do with them? Other than eating…

Well, first of all I have have a great husband who is very willing to help with processing and canning. That in itself is a huge help. Just needed to give him the first THANK YOU!

I recently met a very kind woman with a orchard. She has some great knowledge of canning and honestly I mostly wanted to pick her brain. In the process I think we have gained a friend. Oh, and lots of plums and peaches. Wonderful Blessings! We go and help her harvest, we talk about everything, and we look at the amazing beauty around us.  If you have never seen a harvest ready yellow plum tree in the sun,  it is a awe inspiring, gorgeous sight. (I would have taken a picture but the battery was dead.)

She offered to let me borrow her steam juicer so I had to try it out. I did two runs of fruit through it and came back with mixed feelings.

steam juicer

First of all, If you want clear, pulp-free juice this is for you. It gave gorgeous yummy juice.  I don’t want to knock the product because it is fabulous.

Juice from the steam juicer

Steam juicers cost a good chunk of money so if we were going to invest in one of our own I better be sure I am going to use it. These were the concerns that popped up for me:

1) Time : I have three little ones. They are a handful and so is processing on top of being a Mom and all the normal duties on top of that. The steam juicer takes about an hour (depends on fruit type of course) to juice and in that time I had to regularly keep an eye on water level, juice level, fruit level. I set my timer for every 20 minutes. I then needed to figure out storage…either process or freeze.

2) Clarity expectations: I love the crisper flavor of the juice from the steam juicer, but I really didn’t need the perfect clarity.  How can I get juice but quicker?

So, while the juicer worked its magic the Carpenter and I decided to experiment…

We put about the same amount of fruit into a couple pots with a good amount of water and put them to a simmer.

simmering fruit

We waited until they were all mushy and then put them through my conical sieve.

conical canning sieve

conical canning sieve

BTW This is my favorite canning tool

The liquid was a bit thick so We put it through some cheese cloth.

cheesecloth straining

Well, That was a mess and took too much time.  So, I put some through just a mesh strainer. That was a little faster but not much.

Conclusion we came too: If you don’t want pulp, use the juicer. It has beautiful results.

BUT We don’t really care about pulp being in our juice. The simmer/sieve method seems to use less energy and is quicker, I am taking the juice right from the sieve and freezing it in batches. I am putting a gallon freezer bag into a loaf pan for support, adding about 5-6 cups of  “juice concentrate” in it. I am labeling the bag with it’s contents, noting that it needs water and sugar added (it is strong stuff straight).

frozen juice concentrate

frozen juice concentrate

If I had a larger supply of quart jars or a water-bath canner that could accompany a 1/2 gallon jar I would process them in a water-bath canner for 10 minutes for shelf storage.

Now what to do with the rest…???

Happy Harvest,

The Frabjus Lady