Old-fashioned plum butter

i-9dc84d4d9156dccb30d5f62466b4219a-swblocks.jpgIsis and Physioprof aren't the only ones who can cook, you know. I don't get to cook on a regular basis, but every couple of weeks there's some piece of produce just begging to be cooked into deliciousness. This past week, it was a batch of organic Italian plums that came with our produce delivery (my one indulgence).

I wasn't quite sure what to do with so many plums, so I consulted my shelf of cookbooks and decided upon a recipe from a 1950's book on freezing and canning for farm wives. I updated the techniques and downgraded the quantities a bit, and methods and results are below the fold. The conclusion however, has not changed since the 1950s. Plum butter is divine on vanilla ice cream.

Step 1. Cut plums in half, cover with water and boil until skins are tender.
Plum Butter 1st step
Step 2 (1950s version): Pour plums into strainer, catching liquid, and work plums thoroughly through strainer to create a puree.
Step 2 (2008 version): Start with 1950s version, get impatient. Pull skins off plums, being careful not burn hands. Add remaining pulp to food processor and puree.

Step 3: Add plum puree (and associated liquid) back to pan and boil. Add sugar in appropriate amount. The recipe called for 3 3/4 quarts of uncooked plums = 2 3/4 cups sugar. I started with just over a quart of plums and added just under a cup of sugar. As soon as you add sugar, you must make sure to stir constantly. Watch for splattering hot liquid.
Plum Butter Making

Step 4. Keep boiling and stirring until your plums+sugar reaches a jelly like conistency. Congratulations, you've got plum butter. Can, freeze, or otherwise store as appropriate for the amount you made.
Plum Butter

Step 5. Eat with ice cream, on toast, (or by the spoonful).

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Sciencewoman, are you trying to get in on the schtick? If so, I may need to being treating you with the same disdain I treat PhysioProf.

But this looks delicious.

This time of year, it's also easy to throw in some green apples or crab apples for pectin, so it will set up as a proper jam without so much boiling.

Italian plum trees are all over my neighborhood, so I've now got several batches of plum butter/jam/sauce in the freezer. If your plums are a bit underripe/sour, and you don't add much sugar, it makes a great condiment - you can mix it with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and it works more or less like ketchup, except that it's exotic and impressive.

Yum, that looks delicious. My dad had a plum tree in our yard that was his pride and joy, but we just ate them directly from the tree. You'd better lay in a supply of ice cream... :-)