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Plums in preserves: to peel or not?

Gooseberry Aug 25, 2009 03:24 AM

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?


  1. MMRuth Aug 25, 2009 03:39 AM

    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!

    1. c
      chococat Aug 25, 2009 10:13 AM

      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.

      1. n
        Normandie Aug 25, 2009 10:59 AM

        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.

        1. leanneabe Aug 25, 2009 12:18 PM

          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.

          1. e
            ElenaRose Aug 25, 2009 12:35 PM

            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!

            1. Gooseberry Aug 26, 2009 09:38 AM

              thanks everyone! I think I'll not bother to peel them, and see what happens.

              1. j
                jenn Aug 26, 2009 11:35 AM

                I never peel--not plums, not apricots. Too lazy. I did peel the peaches for the last round of peach jam but then peaches are big and easy to peel.

                1. MsMaryMc Aug 26, 2009 03:37 PM

                  This was a very timely thread! I have a sack of very ripe plums in the kitchen, courtesy of a friend who picked them off her tree yesterday. I've been trying all day to get motivated to peel them all, and I was NOT looking forward to it! Now I think I'll just pit and chop them and make them into preserves, peels and all. Thanks!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: MsMaryMc
                    amyatkendall Aug 27, 2009 03:47 AM

                    I made a big batch of plum jam yesterday and didn't peel them. Honestly, this is one great looking batch of jam. Ruby red and chock-full of fruit. Best batch yet.

                    1. re: amyatkendall
                      zamorski Aug 30, 2009 08:31 AM

                      The peels add a lot of flavour, colour, texture, pectin, and tartness (to balance the sugar in the jam), which is why I don't peel them. As someone above mentioned, you can make a peel-free version, but it would end up being quite different.

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