How to Can Whole Wild Plums — An Illustrated Guide
Hardy Fall Fruit
There are many varieties of wild plums that grow in different locations, but their taste and performance in recipes is similar enough that I have chosen not to quibble about varieties. Many wild plum trees are robust and hardy, and will bear fruit in even inhospitable areas, in which most other fruit trees succumb—places where drought, high winds, wildlife, and grazing animals can make the health of a fruit tree precarious.
Wild plums, unlike many of their domestic counterparts, are small and tart, about the size of a large grape. They tend to have drier flesh and don't usually cook down into a fine-grained jam or sauce. The pits, or stones, make up about a third of the plums' size, and the skins can be relatively thick. The fruits ripen in September and are easily blown down once they begin to soften.
While there are several nice ways to use wild plums, besides just eating them off the tree, one of my favorites is to can them in a light syrup. Used in this way, they can make the dreariest winter's day seem bright and add a wonderful sparkle to any holiday table. Children and adults alike love them.
What You'll Need to Can Whole Wild Plums
- Fresh, wild plums (any variety)
- Boiling water bath or steam canner
- Canning jars (any size), with appropriate lids (I prefer pints for whole wild plums)
- Jar lifter
- Tongs or magnetic lid lifter
- Sauce pot (for boiling syrup)
- Colander (for draining plums)
- Canning funnel (has a wider mouth which fits just inside jar rims)
- Thin bladed knife, needle, or sewing pin (for pricking plums)
Step One - Prepare Your Equipment
Step Two - Prepare a Light Syrup
A light, or even extra-light, syrup is sufficient for these plums, sweetening them pleasantly, but not making them so loaded that people with sugar sensitivities can't enjoy them. A light syrup is considered to be about 30% sugar and 60% water.
To make a light syrup:
- Put about 5 cups of drinking-quality water in a large sauce pot. Then add about 2 cups of granulated sugar.
- Bring to a boil, and simmer until somewhat thickened.
- Remove from heat once it reaches desired consistency.
- That's it!
If you need more syrup, increase the quantity of water and sugar, keeping the proportions at about 1:2.