Plum Butter in a Slow Cooker

We were suspicious that our plum tree would not bear fruit this year, so last year I made enough plum jam to get us through two seasons. So when I was surprised by another bumper crop of plums, I had to think of a way to use them up. This recipe for blueberry butter inspired me to try to work up a plum butter.

When I was in college, I once had the great idea to make apple butter for cheap Christmas presents. It was a disaster. I had to move out of that apartment to avoid the splattery mess that I had made. Scarred from that experience, I was naturally intrigued by the idea of making fruit butters in a slow cooker instead of on the stovetop. There’s a lot of interesting suggestions out there, but I couldn’t find one for plum butter. I looked around, read a few different sources, and decided to come up with my own recipe. Using advice from Stocking Up on the processing part, I feel happy enough with the results that I’ll probably never make plum jam again. My plum butter is thick and spunky. I have been enjoying it on toast alone or mixed with fromage blanc.

Makes 4 cups of plum butter.

about 3 1/2 pounds of plums
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

  1. Wash plums, cut into halves, and pit. My plums were rather small. If you have large ones, you might want to quarter them, but I don’t think that it will matter in the end.
  2. Place the sugar and plums in your slow cooker. Stir. Leave this mixture to cook for 16 hours. Stir whenever you think of it. I began my butter about 7pm. I stirred it a few times and then left it unattended overnight.
  3. Add vanilla. Based on advice in Stocking Up, flavorings for fruit butters should be added at the end. Cinnamon might be a nice pairing here, but I decided mine was potent enough without it.
  4. Process in a hot water bath for ten minutes. For canning advice, go here.
  5. Remove jars to a flat rack to cool.

Recipe update (7/13):
I made this recipe this year with beautiful, juicy yellow plums. Because they were so wet, I found that cracking the crockpot lid open was essential. Lay a wooden spoon across one side to create a little vent for the moisture to escape. I also found that it took almost exactly 24 hours to cook down. I stirred often towards the end of the time. The plums were clingstone, so the pits were a little more difficult to deal with. I skimmed them out after it had cooked down a bit and wound up putting it through the food mill. I did this and let it cook for about an hour more. This was a lot more fussier than the original recipe, but had great results. Many thanks to all the commentors below who shared their experiments. 

How to Make Plum Jam

plum jamWe’re lucky to have a plum tree that provides an ample harvest every two years. The last time it was ‘fruitful,’ I wasn’t prepared at all and wound up making way too many plum cakes. This year, I was ready. I did my research, gathered my jars, and made jam. A whole lot of it.

This recipe doesn’t use pectin and has a lot of sugar. Adjust the amount according to the tartness of your available plums. Mine are very tart, almost inedible alone.

Makes 16 half-pint jars.

8 pounds of small plums, rinsed
4 cups of water
12 cups sugar (adjust according to sweetness of plums)
1/2 cup lemon juice

  1. Prepare yourself for canning. Read through the general guidlines on NCHFP’s site. For jam, equipment that you’ll need includes: medium canner with rack, tongs, canning funnel, jars and lids.
  2. Prepare your area. Wash the jars and rings in the dishwasher, leaving them inside to stay warm. Rinse your lids in mild soap and water and place in a saucepan with a few inches of water. Keep these warm on low heat. Fill your canner about two-thirds full of water. (You can also keep a teapot of water on medium, just in case you find that you need to replenish the water in the canner.)Bring plums and water to a boil.
  3. In a large pot, bring plums and 4 cups of water to boil over medium. Reduce the heat to low. Cover. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. With a potato masher, gently mash the plums. The pits should float to the top. Skim the pits out with a slotted spoon.Skim the pits from the top.
  5. Add sugar and lemon juice.
  6. Pour the hot jam into your sterile jars. If needed, wipe off drips. Use tongs to place the lid. Add the ring and tighten only to just ‘fingertip’ tight. (Think: pour, wipe, lid, ring.)
  7. Place the full jars in the canner. Be sure that you have at least two inches of water over the tops. Process (boil) with the lid on for ten minutes.
  8. Remove jars from canner and place on racks. Be careful not to let the jars touch. Place a dish towel over the top, to slow cooling.Remove the jars to racks.

And now, enjoy your jam whenever you like. A batch of crumpets is probably in order.

Adapted from Well Preserved. Necessary soundtrack for jammin’? A little reggae, of course. Thanks to M, who was the real brains of this operation.

Plum Clafoutis

Last summer, my best friend and I found ourselves stomping around NYC. We were lucky enough to find a floor to sleep on which was right around the corner from the Sweet Melissa Patisserie. Oh, the scones! Everything that we ate there was delicious (and beautiful.) Luckily, for those of us far away from Brooklyn, Melissa Murphy has written a book. If you have a baker in your life, and you’re looking for an obscure book to give as a gift, try this one. Every recipe that I have made from it, and I am indeed working my way through the chapters, from ‘Dessert for Breakfast’ to ‘Sunday Supper’s Grand Finale,’ has been easy to put together and decadent.

Plums abound here. We had beautiful, full bags yesterday at the ferry farm stand and I know many farmers, including Dropstone Farms, are selling them down at the Saturday farmers’ market. Our tree produced a lot this year and I made this dessert, adapted from the Sweet Melissa book, with the last of them. It’s one of those desserts that you can make on a whim. It takes only a few minutes to put together. You can serve it warm or cold, and it tastes very different, depending on your choice.

Plum Clafoutis

3 tbls. butterplum clafoutis
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
about 10 small plums, cut into eighths (or as many will fill the bottom of your skillet)

6 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. AP
3/4 c. cream
3/4 c. whole milk
1/2 tsp. almond extract

3 tbls. sliced almonds
confectioners’ sugar (optional for finishing)

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Melt butter. Whisk in the sugar and cinnamon and cook for about a minute. Add plums and cook until the skins begin to loosen, about 4 minutes.
  3. In  a large measuring cup, whisk eggs, sugar, AP, cream, milk and extract.
  4. Remove the plums from the heat. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet, beginning from the outer edge and pouring into the center. Stir gently. (You should have some lovely purple swirls.)
  5. Sprinkle almonds around the outside edge.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.