I think it can officially be said that I am a "Mad Canner", as my aunt would say. I just finished putting up five half pints of plum preserves.
It's a herculean task for me to make weekly trips to the farmer's market and see all of the beautiful produce that is in season and to NOT think wildly about how I'd love to savor it. This weekend I fell head-over-heels for some adorable local Stanley Plums from Backyard Orchards at the Hyde Park Farmer's Market.
I'm pretty clueless when it comes to types of plums and what holds up better when canning. I bought about 2 lbs of the Stanley Plums, which were the only kind available today. These little guys were about the size and shape of an egg and a beautiful dusky purple hue. The flesh was a surprisingly golden yellow color.
I'm working on mastering the art of finding the "gel point" for jams. Very tricky. Basically you cook the fruit and sugar slowly first, and then quickly at a hard rolling boil until it reaches the "gel point" where the liquid sheets off of a spoon instead of dripping like water. It's important to master this art if you want to have jams and preserves that are not too runny yet not so solid that they won't spread. I think that's the hardest part for me when it comes to canning jams - getting that consistency just right.
After boiling the diced plums for a while, the purple skins infused the jam with a lush deep magenta color. Since the batch was not a huge one, I used my special "fancy" Ball jars that I've been saving:
I have to say I think I like the old fashioned quilted Ball jam/jelly jars the best. I love the rustic look and it's easier to get the nectar out of every last nook and cranny.