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Alison Thomas
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my friend bottles her plums just as they are - no added syrup nor juice.  she says that enough juice comes out of them in the preserving jar.  waddya reckon?  is that ok?  i'm keen not to be adding shed loads of sugar syrups to our food if possible.
 
Alison Thomas
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ok, well i'll just have to try it and see.  If I stop posting you'll know we've all been poisoned 
 
bunkie weir
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hi hen. i'm curious how your plums came out? i can several pints of our plums every year, and instead of using sugar, i use juice from our apples or grapes. it sweetens them up nicely, and gives them that extra juice.
 
Leah Sattler
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adding sugar should't be neccesary. the liquid might be neccesary to insure adequate dispersal of heat while processing. I always go by tested methods. there is no reason not to. there is no really "trying it to see" not all spoilage can be detected easily through sight or smell and it becomes a roll of the dice.

here is the directions for plums

http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_02/plum_halved.html
 
bunkie weir
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hi leah. i usually follow the Ball Blue Book instructions. i had one from the 60's and just acquired the newer one last year. they include syrups...light, heavy, medium....to can with. staying away from sugar, i decided to use our fruit juices instead of the sugar syrup they suggest.
 
Alison Thomas
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I'm posting just so that you know that I haven't poisoned everyone - yet 

The plums did indeed give up loads of their own juice, almost enough to cover them.  Haven't tasted them yet.  As someone said, if you go wrong bottling fruit the worst that happens is that you get drunk whereas a mistake with veg means that you get dead!!!

I'll let you know - hoping to get a moment to do a roast with a crumble this weekend (life's busy right now home-schooling 2 and having a now mobile 9 month old!)
 
Leah Sattler
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heninfrance wrote:
I'm posting just so that you know that I haven't poisoned everyone - yet 

The plums did indeed give up loads of their own juice, almost enough to cover them.  Haven't tasted them yet.  As someone said, if you go wrong bottling fruit the worst that happens is that you get drunk whereas a mistake with veg means that you get dead!!!

I'll let you know - hoping to get a moment to do a roast with a crumble this weekend (life's busy right now home-schooling 2 and having a now mobile 9 month old!)




ha ha ! never thought of it that way ...maybe you should let a few go bad and have yourself a nice wine!

oh boy ....9 months old....you can't expect to find them where you put them last anymore!
 
paul wheaton
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My understanding is that the value of sugar is to have it be the preservative AFTER the jar is opened.  So if you use no sugar, then you want to use it up right away.  Smaller jars might be wise.

If you were to can with, say, super sweet apple juice concentrate - then it would seem you have plenty of sugar - so it has all of the preserving effect of canning with sugar.  But it is hard to measure how much preserving effect you might have. 

And then, with the super sweet, super goopey plums:  probably the same case. 

 
Frank Cetera
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I would think that most fruit are mostly water, at least that's how we make applesauce for canning, just cook the apples in a pot with just a bit of water to cover the bottom of the pot.  The apples release their own water (or juice) to cook in, and they are sweet enough to not need any more sugar in the form of granules or syrup or juice. 
 
Leah Sattler
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paul is right. the sugar doesn't have a role in preserving it in your pantry. making sure liqiud is covering your product can theoretically affect heat transfer during processing but alot of that is just for aesthetic purposes. some things will discolor if the are sticking out of the top  of the liquid. it may not affect the actual safety of the food but it can be a bit unappetizing
 
bunkie weir
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paul wheaton wrote:My understanding is that the value of sugar is to have it be the preservative AFTER the jar is opened.  So if you use no sugar, then you want to use it up right away.  Smaller jars might be wise......


i have never heard of this before. interesting. i'm gong to have to read more about this.

If you were to can with, say, super sweet apple juice concentrate - then it would seem you have plenty of sugar - so it has all of the preserving effect of canning with sugar.  But it is hard to measure how much preserving effect you might have........


the Blue Book is where i got the idea of substituting juice for sugar. they gave the correct amounts to use.
 
Kelda Miller
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if you go wrong bottling fruit the worst that happens is that you get drunk whereas a mistake with veg means that you get dead!!!


Wow! Really!??! That frees my up tons to experiment with fruit. So botulism and all the real nasty bits are all with vegetables? Or possibly also with low-pectin fruits too?

It might be impossible but I'd love a rule like the above quote to help me be a little more creative without endangering myself and others....
 
Leah Sattler
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it isn't about pectin (pectin is to thicken things) but about acid. botulism doesnt' grow well in an an acid enviroment thats why acid things such as fruit can be processed differently then things such as vegies and meat. I think 4.6 is the cut off. any higher ph then that and it must be canned in a pressure canner in order to reach temps high enough to kill botulism spores. it is the same mechanism that preserves yogurt and sauerkraut except that the acid in those products is a byproduct of bacterial culture. the fruit can mold and/or go bad but the really bad deal is botulism because it can be completley undectable in the food and can kill you or cause permanent damage to your body. you would probably notice something off with your canned fruit if it went bad. most likely it would smell yeasty. so you are still at risk of losing your harvest or having an evening in front of the porcelain goddess  . but alot less likely to die.

for things such as tomatoes (they are a fruit) that have been bred extensively it is safest to add some acid ( lemon juice is most common) when canning since some of the breeding efforts have produced borderline acidic varieties. this may be the case with some other fruits also. I know that allowing your fruit to get too ripe can make them not acidic enough also. reccomendations are to use fruit at the peak of ripeness or that are just barely reaching that point.
 
bunkie weir
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good info leah. i wanted to add that i use a tablespoon or two of Balsamic Vinegar when canning my tomatoes. adds nice flavor as well as taking care of the acidity factor.
 
Leah Sattler
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I might have to try the vinegar. sometimes I can taste the lemon in my canned tomatoes and it bugs me. i suppose its prominence depends some on the taste of the tomatoes i am using. some taste more "tomatoey" then others.
 
                              
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There are definitely many borderline fruits that would require additional acid or pressure canning to be safe.

Figs are the first one of these that come to mind.  Also melon.

The comment about pectin content of fruit, pectin doesn't preserve the food but many people probably see it as an indicator in a sense.  Preserves won't firm up if there isn't the right ratio of sugar, pectin and acid.  That is of course only true of the regular recipes, sugar free recipes are a bit different and one must follow the directions.
 
Leah Sattler
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TCLynx wrote:
There are definitely many borderline fruits that would require additional acid or pressure canning to be safe.

Figs are the first one of these that come to mind.  Also melon.




so true. I encourage everyone to look up tested specific standards for home preserving everything they are going to attempt to can. there is no one size fits all.
 
Ken Peavey
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Leah Sattler wrote:
it isn't about pectin (pectin is to thicken things) but about acid.


+1

When in doubt, use a pressure canner instead of a water bath canner.  You can always increase the time and pressure if it will give you more peace of mind.

bunkie weir wrote:i use a tablespoon or two of Balsamic Vinegar when canning my tomatoes. adds nice flavor as well as taking care of the acidity factor.


If lemon juice is not to your liking, there are alternatives.  Balsamic, cider, and white vinegar can lower the pH and each has a distinctive flavor.
 
paul wheaton
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I looked into the fruit/botulism thing when I decided to use old-fashioned jar closures. I wanted to feel sure of what I was doing. I mean, what a stupid way to die. I combed through the CDC archives for botulism examples. I did read about some incidents of botulism with fruits. The one that stuck in my mind occurred back in the twenties, when several people died from eating a batch of canned pears. Apparently the pears were moldy when they were canned. The mold caused the pH to rise to the point where the sealed jar was a good growing system for botulism. My understanding is that normally, if something fruit-based goes moldy, the fermentation (not necessarily the kind you would want to drink) will tend to break the seal and you will see stuff on the outside of the jar (reason why it's important to clean jars off thoroughly after canning--so you can see the leaks). In this case, I guess because it was already moldy, it didn't break the seal. Most fruits are naturally acidic enough that it's not an issue, but pears are getting on the borderline. Figs are also borderline, but I have preserved figs without processing the jars at all by the addition of sugar and brandy (modern British recipe). Very wonderful with yogurt!
 
Irene Kightley
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That fig recipe can be used with any fruit. It's useful because you can pop the fruit in as it ripens and just keep filling the jar to cover the fruit.



After a year or so you can eat the fruit as an after-dinner treat and serve the juice too or if you use the fruit in cakes the cooking boils off the alcohol but leaves a lovely taste. You can inject the juice into fruit cakes, add it to trifles and all sorts of things.

We make our own eau de vie from fruit, (We use it for everything - cleaning hams, medical use, etc.) but you can use any strong alcohol. This is one of our favourites at the moment - an orange/coffee liqueur.



I also do a lot of bottling and use the hot bath method to sterilise fruit with added vinegar or lemon juice. I also use Stevia to sweeten the fruit - it's especially good with rhubarb and Angelica.
 
                                
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Wow, those are some beautiful preserves! I had not thought of trying this with other fruits. I've read about the Romtopf (sp?), but that seemed to use a lot more sugar. I like the figs because figs are already naturally real sweet. Somehow even though there is added sugar, it isn't that much and the alcohol dilutes the fig sweetness throughout the "juice." I will try it with some other fruits this year. I hope to be doing some angelica this year, as I planted a bunch last year.
 
Roger Merry
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OK nice video Paul ....................... but why are you "bottling" jam - jam is preserved fruit you don't need to "bottle"  it as well. 

We always have a store cupboard full of jams / pickles - they last years unopened and, well as long as they're likely to last (which isn't that long with me about) once opened 

And while I'm being picky why are you adding pectin to plums ?? Personally I don't add it to anything but certainly not plums - just add a few red currants and/or some lemon to any fruit if you think they may be short of natural pectin.

If you want a really good preserve try sloe or damson gin - ignore the recipes though, its not ready for a full year - warms you up like nothing else on a cold day 

Roger 
 
T. Joy
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I'm pretty sure Paul is just taping that show, not the one doing the actual jamming  .

I would like to try it, it looked very easy, but that is WAY too much sugar for us. Really, there has to be a way to do it without any sugar. My teeth hurt just looking at that. I get it that it's a preservative but fruit is sweet on it's own, isn't some fruit sweet enough on it's own?
 
Roger Merry
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Fair comment - sorry paul 

You do need sugar in jam

You might not need to add sugar syrup to bottled fruit if it had enough of its own juice to fill the jar.

But sugar isn't bad for you per se just in excess - a spoonful of fabulous, homemade strawberry jam on a fresh baked scone is food for the soul , to be eaten with pleasure and without guilt 
 
                                
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You can make preserves without sugar by using Pomona's Universal Pectin. It can gel water. But I think you are supposed to refrigerate it after opening then to get it to last longer. I have some but haven't tried it yet.
 
Roger Merry
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hmmm I'd want to know how it works and what its made from before I used it - I'd rather use sugar and not eat so much jam if sugar was a problem ................
 
T. Joy
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I make pickles with a fermenting jar (The Perfect Pickler, it's awesome) and those have to be stored in the fridge so I guess I'd be ok storing jam in there too. It would be hard to make enough to last all season though... I suppose I could make a sugar-free variation with reconstituted dehydrated fruit. More of a fruity puree, that.
I am just not down with adding sugar to anything, to be honest. I don't care for the taste of things that are overly sweet.
 
Roger Merry
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I know it doesn't sound likely given the amount of sugar in jam but the great thing about homemade jam is that it just tastes of the fruit - same tangy raspberry, same sharp edge to blackcurrant - God only knows how much sugar it takes to make that sickly sweet, shop bought stuff urggh.
Other than jam we freeze loads of fruit (some fruit makes better jam if its been frozen first- odd but true) Had blackcurrants stirred into yoghurt for breakfast this morning - as good as if they were picked today and a taste of the summer to come 
Whats a fermenting jar ? sounds good ....... like a "rumtoft" ??
R
 
T. Joy
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Here's the fermenter/pickler I use, it really is as easy as it sounds. 4 days to perfect pickles every single time.

http://www.perfectpickler.com/

I don't like fruit pie either, homemade or not. Too sweet for me. I do like apple and plum butter which are certainly concentrated but don't have any sugary sweetness.
 
                                
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This kind of pectin is made from the white part of citrus fruits and reacts with food-grade calcium to make a gel under heat. I came across it in Rodale's Stockind Up II book, so I would not think there is anything unnatural about it. It can be used to thicken stuff too, but I haven't tried that either--stuff like aspic, so then you would not have to use gelatin if you didn't want to. The good thing about it is that you do not have to use regular pectin. Usually there is sugar added in regular packaged pectin, for one thing. I have certainly made plenty of jams without pectin from high-pectin fruits, but some people don't like the cooked fruit/caramelized sugar taste of the really old-fashioned spreads. I know you can also make your own pectin from apples, but that is a lot more work than opening a package. And you have to have the apples. I thought it was creepy at first, but when I looked into it, I thought it sounded pretty good.
 
T. Joy
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It sounds like agar, which would be an option as well I think. If it is just used to thicken that is.
 
                                
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I don't know how agar acts when it's canned. I think it can gel without heat, too. Another thing I haven't tried.
 
bunkie weir
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i found this recipe to make pectin from apples. going to try it this year...

http://endofordinary.blogspot.com/2010/10/making-pectin-from-apples.html
 
Irene Kightley
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Crab apples are even better, their pectin content is really high and you only need to put a few in with any jam to get a really good set and the apple taste won't take over.

If you have the space it's well worth having a crab apple tree in the garden, they're blossom is so beautiful and they hold their fruit - ours are still on the tree and it's almost spring so we have a source of pectin for a very long period.



Some crab apples are also "universal" pollinators and as the tree stays small it's useful in a tiny garden or to share between neighbours.
 
                                
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I have used Pomona's Universal Pectin for many years with great success.  I really like it because one package does several batches of jam.  And I can have more control over the sugar with the Pomona's.  However, I don't care for it in jelly.  Go figure,  but I prefer liquid pectin from the market for jelly, yes, I then have to use a lot of sugar.  Commercial pectin is designed to use "x" amount of fruit, "X" amount of acid, "x" amount of sugar for it to have a proper set. 

For low/no sugar you can use the Pomona's or you can also find a powdered "sugar free jam" pectin in a box with the Sure-Jel in the market.

Tami
 
paul wheaton
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I had somebody ask me about one of the tools in the video.  I couldn't find it sold by itself, but I did find it as part of a set.
 
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