My friend Jacquelyn belongs to a farm share but the big crates of fruits and vegetables are a little too much to power through on a weekly basis. Rather than waste beautiful produce she has been coming up with creative recipes from chocolate chip zucchini bread to healthy hearty soups. For her birthday this year I got her the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving…she’s been on a bit of jarring kick lately and it’s a little contagious!
The centerpieces at my cousin’s lovely fall wedding last week were large vases filled with black plums and pears and topped off with bells of Ireland and calla lilies. There were a hundred plums left over so we all took a hefty sack home the next morning, after the farewell brunch. I had a fantastic idea…thanks to Jacquelyn…to make plum preserves to preserve their wonderful wedding day a little longer (or for 30 days after opening). This is a perfect thoughtful gift for any lovely couple to enjoy after the big day.
Stockpiling fruit might be a little difficult to do the night of the wedding, unless you’re sticking around until last-call and you can wrangle the wedding planner’s assistant to coordinate your preserves project. But I’m sure if you discuss the idea with someone in charge at the beginning of the reception, the operation should run smoothly. If you’re a bridesmaid, this will be a cinch! You’re already verbally contracted to be on-hand for the entire ceremony, after-party and probably the following morning for wrap-up–so you’ll most likely know ahead of time if fruit will be involved in the floral arrangements and you’ll have plenty of time to gather the necessary items (sturdy containers, ball mason jars, recipe and ingredients).
For the Black Plum Preserves I was shocked at just how easy the recipe was… It’s basically sugar, water, plums and a cinnamon stick (I substituted this for a few shakes of cinnamon powder) …
2 lb firm-ripe red, black, or fresh prune plums, halved and pitted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
Coarsely chop plums and mix together with sugar, water, and cinnamon stick in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Simmer the contents, uncovered, stirring occasionally (more often toward end of cooking to prevent sticking) until thickened (It took me about an hour and a half to cook the ingredients down). Discard cinnamon stick and cool preserves. Transfer to an airtight container and chill, covered. I used the Ball Mason jars. You will hear a little “click” when the container seals itself.