Thursday, August 26, 2010

Homemade Plum Juice

The plums are ripe on the trees now and there is no way we can eat them all fresh before they go bad.  I don't want to see them go to waste so I have been making plum juice every evening this week.  I did the same with apples last year and we had delicious fresh tasting apple juice all winter.  It saves a considerable amount of money, we still buy orange juice once in a while during the colder months, but with our homemade juice in the pantry we don't buy nearly as much.  Plus I just don't like to see food go to waste.  Just like the abundant produce I gather from the garden, often it is more than we can eat so I save it for later using the method that produces the best results, whether that be canning, drying, freezing or fermenting.  These plums are best for juicing or making jelly.  I tried cutting them in half to dry some, but they are mostly juice inside with a tough, sour skin and they just turned to mush in my hand.  We have enough homemade plum, cherry and apple jelly to last us through the year, so juice it is.  

Making juice with a steam juicer, is a simple process, first the fruit is washed.

Then water is poured into the basin at the bottom of the juice steamer and the fruit is placed in the colander at the top of the steamer with a little sugar.  As the steam rises the fruit heats up and juice runs out of the colander into the pan below.

Steaming juice then flows out the attached hose and into a steralized jar, a prepared lid and band are placed on top and as the juice cools the lids seal and the juice is canned and ready to be stored for winter.

The fruit in the colander is reduced to a small pile at the bottom of the colander,  I place this in the compost bin.

I am able to get between 3 and 4 quarts of juice from each batch of plums, apples don't provide quite as much juice, usually 2 to 3 quarts per batch.  I find it interesting how the color of the juice changes after it cools.  Above is the batch I did Tuesday evening just before I took the picture.  Below are the jars of juice I processed on Monday evening, going from red to pink as it cools.