Monday, September 24, 2012

Prune Conserve

Hi Friends,

I don't know if I have any regular readers or not.  If I do, I would love to know you are there.  I know a lot of people pop in for recipes, and I wonder if you ever come back again.  If you are there, please do leave comments as you get a chance.

I thought I'd let you know what I made today.  Last year our favorite homemade jam was made out of prunes.  All the other jams we made were ok, but the Prune Conserve stood out above all the rest in many ways.  By the way, prunes are really a fresh fruit.  They are not just dried plums.  One common variety is Italian Prunes. They are purple/blue in color, and split easily in half, like an apricot.  Their flavor is sweet with a touch of lemon juice complexity, with no bitter.  There happened to be one of these trees on the property when we moved into this house, which made me really happy, because there were Italian prunes where I grew up also.  I think you could also make this recipe with some sweet plums too.

The original recipe had 6 cups of sugar!  So of course, I had to start tweaking.  Last year we figured out this recipe really does not need much sugar, and its thickness is not based on sugar or pectin either.  I also decreased the amount of orange peel in the recipe, because frankly, it is not one of my favorite flavors.

Another tip for the recipe is that if you have a food processor, use it.  If you don't, it will take you a bit more time for chopping ingredients, but that doesn't matter, if you aren't making mega batches.  Another tip is that it is ok to make multiple batches, as long as they will fit into your largest kettle.

Prune Conserve

2 1/2 quarts chopped, pitted prunes or plums (about 4 pounds)*
2 cups raisins
1 3/4 cups chopped orange pulp*
1/3 cup thinly sliced orange peel*
1 1/2 cups sugar (you might try xylital or stevia)
2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans or other nuts*

* Use the S-blade of your food processor on these, if you have one.  Pulse them until they are as small as you wish.  The nuts and orange peel can be pulsed fine.

Combine the prunes, raisins, orange pulp, orange peel and sugar in a large pot.  Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Cook rapidly almost to jellying point, about 15 - 20 minutes.  As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking.  Add nuts the last 5 minutes of cooking.  Pour hot mixture into jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.  Adjust caps.  Process 15 minutes in boiling water bath.  Yield:  about 5 pints.

Thanks to William at Heavenly Light Photography for the photos.

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