The Cottage Smallholder

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Still laid up but I’ve been bottling foraged fruit

Photo: Bottled cherry plums

Photo: Bottled cherry plums

I’m getting to the end of my third week being in bed. Finally last week my doctor discovered that I have a problem with my kidneys. I was beginning to wonder whether I’d just fade away like one of Dicken’s heroines.

So now we are waiting for more test results. Meanwhile I languish in the big spare room bed feeling lousy. I get up for a couple of hours in the afternoon. I’ve been out on two mini foraging trips to harvest wild plums and have bottled (canned) six kilos to eat in the winter months. I’ve also been harvesting the chubby wild blackberries that grow in our garden for wine and bottling with sliced apples. Gentle satisfying exercise.

We usually make jam, jelly and chutney with the wild cherry plums but this year I wanted to try bottling this fruit. When I was a child my mum bottled a lot of fruit (freezers were rare in those days) and I loved looking at the jars lined up on the larder shelves. Comfortable, squat, their fruit suspended in the coloured syrup.

There’s lots of good advice about bottling on the internet. I found the site very useful. In the end I rang my mum and she looked up her old method in her ancient Ideal Gas cookery book. Here are the instructions for bottling plums.

  • Make a syrup of anything between 4ozs (113g) to a pound (454g) of white sugar to one pint (568ml) of water. My mum tipped to use the minimum sugar as too much can make the syrup taste sickly.
  • Sterilise jars, rings and caps. Always use new rubber seals.
  • Wash fruit and discard any bad or bruised  fruit.
  • Set the oven to Gas Mark ½ (120°C, 250°F).
  • Pack the jars very tightly with the plumbs pushing them firmly down.
  • Put several sheets of newspaper into a deep baking tray (to absorb any liquid that bubbles over)
  • Place the jars two inches apart on the baking tray. Fill to the makers mark (about an inch below the rim) with boiling syrup. Lids on very loosely (not tightened or clipped shut).
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes. (Times change depending on the fruit used).
  • Remove the baking tray and seal the topsof the jars firmly using a thick oven cloth.
  • Leave for 24 hours before testing the seals.

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  1. Adam Blackie

    Thanks for the recipe. Lots of wild plums around in St Albans this year. Having fun collecting them with the children. We have bottled pears before, but never plums. Should be interesting and I am looking forward to having some on my breakfast cereal.


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