Plums in preserves: to peel or not?
I'm getting mixed messages as to whether plums should be peeled (i.e. blanched in hot water, then refreshed in cold, and then peeled) before making plum jam, pickles and chutney. Some recipes say to leave the peel on for pectin (specific to jam), some say leave the peel on but only add sugar once the plums are soft, and some say to peel. I'd rather not 'experiment' with 2-gallon quantities, so can anyone enlighten me?
I've made plum chutney with a friend in the past, and she never peels the plums. I'm sure I would have remembered peeling that many plums!
I always leave the peels on the plums. I just made jam from 4 pounds of teeny-tiny plums, and peeling them would have taken hours and reduced the yield to nothing. The final product had visible flecks of plum skin, but texturally, they melted away and were barely detectable. I also think the tartness in the skins is a really nice accent to the sweetness of the plums.
Personally, I think the best way would be to choose a recipe that appeals to your personal taste from a source you trust.
My favorite ever conserve recipe calls for the plums to be chopped but not peeled. It also contains orange peels and pulps, raisins and walnuts. So, as you can see, it's meant to have a lot of texture and the peels of the plums add to the chewiness. That happens to be one of the desired characteristics of this divine (well, IMO, anyway!) concoction.
So, as I say, I think it would depend on desired result. For jam, my impulse is that I wouldn't peel them, either, but I've never made straight plum jam.
It kind of depends on the flavor you're looking for. My mom makes plum preserves with peeled and pitted plums. It comes out lighter in color and sweeter. I just halve the plums and simmer away, peels and pits, and my jam is darker and a little more tart, but with a bright, fresh flavor. By the time the jam has set, the pits are pretty clean and the skins have either "melted" away or are in large enough pieces to just pull out.
I think for pickled plums you'd want them whole, maybe just pricked? I've never made plum chutney, so I'm not familiar with the end product and how plum peels would affect it.
Neither my mom or I use pectin and her jam comes out just as thick as mine, so I can't say the peels really affect it.
I made some plum jams this summer and didn't peel the plums. I did cook the plum pieces for a while before adding the sugar, and it came out great!