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How to Make Whole Spiced Wild Plums: An Illustrated Guide

Butterfly has been gardening and preserving food of all kinds for many years, and she thrives on the creativity involved in these processes.

Red wild plums in their prime, ready for eating.

Red wild plums in their prime, ready for eating.

This row of plum bushes was planted on purpose. Wildlife adore both the fruit and the cover.

This row of plum bushes was planted on purpose. Wildlife adore both the fruit and the cover.

Heavenly Wild Plums

Preserved whole wild plums may be used as a dessert, side dish, or in a relish tray. There are several recipe variations for preserving them, and I'm about to show you my favorite.

This recipe is time-consuming, but it's not complicated. It takes three days to produce this delectable treat. Most of this time is spent waiting for them to soak in spices and sugar. This fruit is worth the extra effort. Each piece looks like a jewel and is practically glacéd. You will have trouble keeping out of it, once you open a properly matured, finished jar.

Ingredients and Supplies

  • Fresh wild plums, any variety
  • Spices and sugar (ground cinnamon, allspice, and cloves)
  • White vinegar
  • 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
  • Saucepot, for boiling syrup
  • Colander, for draining plums
  • Ladle
  • Canning funnel (has a wide mouth which fits just inside jar rims)
  • Thin-bladed knife, needle, sewing pin, or dinner fork (for pricking plums)
  • Crock, or large bowl (glass or stainless steel), for soaking plums

Step 1: Wash Fresh Wild Plums and Drain

Wash plums gently in water to remove dust, sap, leaves, and other matter.

Wash plums gently in water to remove dust, sap, leaves, and other matter.

Drain briefly in a colander.

Drain briefly in a colander.

Step 2: Prick Plums and Place in Crock

Prick each plum in two or more places to prevent them from bursting when heated. Place plums in a crock or bowl.

Prick each plum in two or more places to prevent them from bursting when heated. Place plums in a crock or bowl.

Step 3: Prepare Syrup

In a large pot, combine, per 4 quarts of wild plums:

  • 6 cups of sugar (don't skimp in this recipe)
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar, 4-6% acidity
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, or 4 whole cloves

Boil all together 5 minutes. Pour syrup over plums in the crock, and let stand 24 hours. Drain syrup off plums, reheat, and pour over plums once again, to stand another 24 hours.

The syrup will surround, but not cover, the plums. Stir them once or twice a day.

The syrup will surround, but not cover, the plums. Stir them once or twice a day.

Read More From Delishably

Step 4: Prepare Jars

Wash (sterilize if necessary) and examine all jars (chips, cracks), rings (bent, excessive rust), and lids (misaligned rubber). Heat boiling waterbath canner, about two-thirds full of water for a full load.

Wash (sterilize if necessary) and examine all jars (chips, cracks), rings (bent, excessive rust), and lids (misaligned rubber). Heat boiling waterbath canner, about two-thirds full of water for a full load.

Either gently simmer the lids (don't boil!), or set them in a small pan and pour on boiling water to cover, to scald them.

Either gently simmer the lids (don't boil!), or set them in a small pan and pour on boiling water to cover, to scald them.

Step 5: Pack Plums Into Jars and Process in Boiling Water Bath Canner

On the third day, drain and set aside syrup in a saucepan. Heat the syrup to boiling. Pack the plums into jars to within 1/2" of the rims (1/2" headspace).

Canning Process

Using a canning funnel, if desired, ladle hot syrup into hot jars, leaving 1/2" headspace.

Using a canning funnel, if desired, ladle hot syrup into hot jars, leaving 1/2" headspace.

Remove air bubbles; wipe jar rims with a clean cloth or paper towel. Adjust two-piece caps finger-tight.

Remove air bubbles; wipe jar rims with a clean cloth or paper towel. Adjust two-piece caps finger-tight.

Filled jars are ready to go into your canner.

Filled jars are ready to go into your canner.

Lift rack into canner carefully, or place jars in one at a time with a jar lifter. Water should be at a hard boil, covering jars by about 1 inch.

Lift rack into canner carefully, or place jars in one at a time with a jar lifter. Water should be at a hard boil, covering jars by about 1 inch.

Wait for water to come back to a rolling boil before you start timing 15 minutes (at 5,000' elevation), for pints or half-pints. Quarts process for 20 minutes.

Wait for water to come back to a rolling boil before you start timing 15 minutes (at 5,000' elevation), for pints or half-pints. Quarts process for 20 minutes.

Using a jar lifter, remove jars to a heat-resistant and draft free surface. (Use a towel for most surfaces.)

Using a jar lifter, remove jars to a heat-resistant and draft free surface. (Use a towel for most surfaces.)

As jars seal, the lids may "ping". Cool thoroughly or overnight. Refrigerate or reprocess any unsealed jars. Rinse and store in a dry, dark, cool place.

As jars seal, the lids may "ping". Cool thoroughly or overnight. Refrigerate or reprocess any unsealed jars. Rinse and store in a dry, dark, cool place.

How Did Your Plums Turn Out?

Questions & Answers

Question: Is this syrup recipe correct, 6 cups of sugar to 1 cup of vinegar with no water?

Answer: This syrup coats the plums more than directly soaking them, and works well when used correctly. The plums give off enough juice to make up the difference, and adding water will result in a sloppy mess.

© 2010 Joilene Rasmussen

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