Plums in Syrup

Richmond Food Secure organised 3 sessions of canning and preserving the bounty of summer harvest for the enjoying in the winter.  The workshops will be conducted in the South Arm Community Center.  Chef Karen Dar Woon will instruct participants on easy methods of canning, using excess fruit and veggies that are coming out of the garden.  Each workshop costs $5.  I got to know of these workshops through Arzeena, the outreach coordinator of Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project.

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The theme for the first workshop was Golden Plum.  It is also known as Yellowgage or Golden Drop.  The Golden Plum is a small plum, with diameter around 3 to 4 cm.  The skin is sourish while the flesh is sweet.

Karen shared with us the following home canning knowledge:

What is Canning:

Home canning, also known as putting up, is the process of preserving foods (in particular, fruits, vegetables, and meats) by packing them into glass jars and then heating the jars. Heating kills microorganisms and inactivates the enzymes which can cause deterioration.  The heat process also drives the air out of the jars, creating a hermetic (airtight) seal; this prevents reentry of contaminants.

Prior to the mid 20th Century, canning was one of the most common methods of preserving food for later use.  Freezers were not developed for consumer use until mid 1940s, when the Birdseye company began distributing frozen foods by rail.

A little science:

The microorganisms which cause spoilage include molds and yeasts, bacteria (salmonella, staph and botulism) and enzymes.  These microorganisms are already in or on the foods in nature, but can be killed.  Most molds and yeasts are destroyed at temperatures between 140-190F (60-88C).  Bacteria thrive at those same temperatures, but are unable to live in high acid environments. Fruit jams and pickles are considered high acid foods (pH of 4.6 or lower), and so are considered lower risk for home canning.

The use of a pressure canner, producing temperatures of up to 240F (115C), is used for processing low acid and acid nuetral foods such as meats and vegetables.

Heating jars in the water bath processor causes expansion of the food, and pressure within the jar.  Air escapes from under the lid throughout the processing time.  When the produce cools, a  vacuum forms and the lid conracts, creating a hermetic (airtight) seal and preventing re contamination.

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Equipment:

Boiling water bath: Any large, heavy pot can be used, as long as it is at least 3″ taller than your jars.  A rack keeps the glass away from the direct heat of the pot, and can be helpful for removing the jars later, but isn’t critical.

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A folded tea towel can be used instead.

Jar lifters: specially shaped tongs which fit around the top of the jar.

Pressure canner: specially equipped pot which features a pressure-regulating device and a locking lid.  Opten available at smaller hardware stores and some specialty cookware shops.  These differ from pressure cookers in both shap and manufacture (more precise regulator).  A pressure canner MUST be used for ‘plain’ vegetables, meat, poultry or fish.

Jars: Canning jars are designed to withstand the temperatures and pressures involved in home canning.  Jars and rings may be reused, but ALWAYS USE NEW SEALS.  The two-part sealer uses a soft compound in the lid which softens with heat and provides a cushion between the glass and the metal lid.

For more info, check out http://www.homecanning.ca (Bernardin website, and the The Art and Science of Home Food Preservation @ 2006 Jarden Corporation.

Ingredients

  • 3-5 pounds plums
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups water

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