There is a great shift happening.
The mornings are cold and dewy, although the days themselves warm, even sweltering. The maples are starting to show their fall colors and a few crunchy leaves are starting to litter the ground dry hard ground. It is late August now and the plums are starting to ripen.
When I first laid eyes on the place that I call home (at the time I write this post), I was charmed by the detailed Craftsman home, the brilliantly large elder, and the fruit and nut trees in the backyard. The hilly pastures weren’t ideal and required a lot of fence work, but, hey, they were at least more than I had before. The summer that we committed to this place, I loaded up many of the red flesh plums from the gnarled old tree out back and ate them like candy. Since that time four years ago, the plum tree has only given me one crop. This year she offers a mere shirttail full of fruit. She is done. And so am I.
We are moving.
Although I make effort to show you beauty with my site, I would be inauthentic to say that it has been a charmed life here. A bad electrical system has left us scrambling to pay the power bill more months than I can count. The barn is suffocatingly small, leaky and impossible to keep dry during our wet PNW winters. Those pastures – bigger, but not better. And the soil – well, it sucks. I can cover crop and compost to my heart’s content and get nowhere with it. There you have it folks – ugly authentic.
We have purchased a new piece of property. In fact, the notice that the loan docs have made it to the escrow agent to prepare for closing just hit my inbox. And I promise to share more on that later. But you came here for the plum butter. So, plum butter I will deliver.
Fruit butter is my favorite way of making jam. My secret is the slow cooker. It saves my nitty gritty butt every time. All hail the slow cooker. Basically, place cleaned and halved fruit in slow cooker with sugar, lemon juice and whatever spices you want to add, walk away. Come back, whirl it up with a stick blender, process in a water bath canner, and voila. It doesn’t get more simple than that.
Plum butter is especially lovely. My red fleshed plums result in a kinda sexy burgundy butter reminiscent of velvet theater screen drapes. Purple skinned Italian plums offer a gorgeous aubergine hue that is lovely too. Plums seems well adapted to this low and slow caramelization technique. The sugars become darker and rich, and very, very yummy. I wrap up a few of the pits in a muslin tea bags to imbue the plum butter with a delicate almond note. This plum butter is simple, delicious and not the least bit fussy. But it tastes divine. Perfect on toast, but capable of topping a custard or filling a sumptuous chocolate layer cake. And I am never one to shy away from just eating it with a spoon.
It seems so very appropriate — this eeking out a batch of plum butter from my final crop of plums on this land. The last of this tree, which will undoubtedly perish this winter. Such is the cycle of life.
I have no regrets, just ready for a new adventure.
And to stock the shelves of my new-to me 1930 vintage pantry with a few jars of this plum butter.
For another wonderful fruit butter, check out this peach butter with vanilla bean.
Slow Cooker Plum Butter
Plum butter made in the slow cooker results in a rich, flavorful fruit spread ever so slightly nuanced with the almond notes of the plum pits. This canning recipe makes approximately 4 half-pints.
- 8 cups fresh, ripe plums halved, pits removed
- 1.5-2 cups organic sugar
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 5-7 reserved pits tied in cheesecloth or a muslin tea bag
Place prepared plums, sugar, lemon juice and optional pits into a slow cooker set to low. Cook, uncovered for 8-10 hours until fruit mixture is reduced by approximately half.
Remove pits, then puree to a smooth consistency using a stick blender or by cooling slightly and using a blender. (If you don't want to can this recipe, cool the puree and ladle into containers for the freezer).
Ladle into sterilized jars. Wipe rims clean and place prepared lids on finger tight. Process in a water bath canner at a rolling boil, 10 minutes for half pints and 15 minutes for pints.
After processing, remove from canner and allow jars to cool to room temperature before moving. Check for seal and place in a cool, dark cupboard for up to a year. Refrigerate after opening.