Jul 31, 2013

Canning Mulled Fruits - with a Recipe for Mulled Wild Plums

Did you know that you may can mulled fruits just by adding a few spices to your usual canning recipe? It's true! And trust me, mulled fruits are a fantastic holiday season food!

Traditionally, winter drinks like red wine or cider, were "mulled" - that is, they were heated and had spices like allspice, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and star anise added to them. Mulled fruit is cooked in such spices and may be served hot or cold.
How to Can Mulled Fruit

Begin by finding an appropriate recipe for canning the fruit in syrup. You can find such a recipe at The National Center for Home Food Preservation or in The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. You will have a choice of whether to make your syrup "very light," "light," "medium," "heavy," or "very heavy." "Very light" syrup has very little sugar; "very heavy" syrup has a lot of sugar. See this chart for complete information on the water to sugar ratio for each.

Nearly any fruit can be mulled, but great choices for mulling include plums, pears, peaches, apples, cranberries, and cherries. In this case, I was canning wild plums, which are tart. Therefore, I chose the medium syrup. If I were using sweeter, domestic plums, I'd probably use a light syrup.

Place the appropriate amount of sugar and water into a large saucepan. Now add the mulling spices. To one batch of syrup, I added:

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Feel free to experiment with the spices; adding spices does not alter the safety of the canning recipe. I don't recommend, however, using whole spices (like whole cloves, whole allspice, or sticks of cinnamon) because they won't be evenly distributed among the jars and may not get heated through, causing a safety issue.

Now place the saucepan over medium high heat, stirring often, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is hot.

Finally, follow the canning recipe as usual.

Mulled Wild Plums Recipe

You may wish to review the boiling water bath canner instructions here. This recipe may also be used for whole domestic plums, although you may wish to use a less sugary syrup.

Wild plums
3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
5 cups water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1. Prepare jars and lids.

2. Wash and sort through the plums. Only ripe but firm plums should be used. Any that are softer should be eaten fresh or used for making jam or jelly. Any that are mushy should go in the compost bin. As you sort and wash, place firm plums in their own bowl, but prick them once with a fork first.

3. Pour the sugar, water, and spices into a large saucepan. Place over medium high heat, stirring often, until sugar completely dissolves and the mixture is hot.

4. Add some plums to the mulled syrup. They should not be overcrowded, but because wild plums are very small (about 1 inch across), it's fine if they are not in a single layer. (Domestic plums should be in a single layer.)

5. Heat the plums for 1 to 2 minutes. (Domestic plums will take longer.) You'll know they are ready when the skins split. Don't let them overheat, or they will become mushy.

6. Ladle plums into a hot, prepared canning jar. Ladle the mulled syrup over them. Leave a headspace of 1/2 inch. Some of the plums will loose their skins. It's fine to just ladle those looser skins in the jar. Or you can pick the skins out as you scoop them up in the ladle. Wipe down the jar rims, place a lid and a ring on the jar, and place the jar in the canner.

7. Repeat step 6 until all the plums are jarred.

8. Process pint jars in a water bath canner for 20 minutes; process quart jars for 25 minutes.*

* NOTE: If you live at a high altitude, read this important information about adjusting canning times.

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