Friday, June 15, 2012

Tree block and Plum Preserves

Earlier this week, I finished paper piecing a tree block for my block exchange group.  Each of us was assigned a color family (mine was purple--fancy that!) and the block had 15 separate pieces.  She wanted 6 different fabrics for the tree, and 8 different cream backgrounds, plus the trunk.   Here's the finished block before trimming.  I basted the outside of the block and the recipient will trim all the blocks after she receives them. The pattern was called "Jeweled Forest" and it's pictured to the side of the block. It's a wall hanging size.


After finishing my tree block, I wanted to tackle a 5 gallon bucket of freshly picked plums that a friend of my DH gave us.  The real ripe ones were so sweet and delicious, I ate at least a dozen of them before I decided to make some plum preserves with them.  Off I went looking for my canning resource--The "Ball Blue Book of Preserving".  The recipe was simple, sugar, fruit and water.  Can't be too hard, right??  Well, the coarse chopping of the small plums took a bit more time than I thought. I got everything cooking and ready to ladle into the hot jars, then into the boiling water bath; 15 minutes later I took them out of the boiling water to cool and they looked beautiful.  After they cooled, they tasted yummy, BUT they were too soft to stay put on a slice of bread; not thick like jam or preserves should be.  What did I do wrong??

Not one to give up, I tried another batch and this time I let the fruit mixture cook longer on the stove, at least until it seemed like it would all boil away if I didn't stop and start putting it into the jars.  The 2nd batch was thicker, but still not as firm as I think it should be.  I still have enough to try another batch, but I think I need some more advice.  Both batches taste good, but I'm missing something.  The recipe does not call for any Sure Jell or Fruit Pectin, so it should work according to the Ball Book.  Has anyone had this happen to you?  What did you do to correct it?  It does not give any indication as to how long it should boil before you put it in the jars.  That would help immensely.


  1. Since I'm not a canner, I'm afraid I can't help you on the preserves! I'm a big fan of anyone who cans food!!! But I have done those trees! I made the quilt a couple of years ago with orientals & batiks and won Best of Show at the Oktoberfest Quilt Show that year! It's a gorgeous quilt! Wasn't the tree fun to make?

  2. Love the purple tree - it just glows! as for the jam I'm no help in that area. I'm a good eater, but not a great cook. I'm sure it taste yummy!

  3. I wish my Mom's memory worked better, she could tell me what to tell you on the plum jelly. That's all we had as kids.
    PS I have that same book!

  4. Dar,

    Are they "thicker" when you refrigerate them after opening? Or did you try them when they were warm?

    I belong to a yahoo Canning group where members have talked of accidentally making syrup instead of jam or jelly.....LOL. I think you could try the Sure Jell or some type of pectin. See what they say on the instructions. I do know that you need some fruit that is UNripe or less ripe because they have more pectin in them than the ripe ones do, so make sure and use a mixture of the fruit.

    The canning group is Canning2 - you could join and look in their files. They have TONS of information and recipes and folks who can answer these type of questions very knowledgeably.