For years now, I have wanted to try to make the plum juice my grandmother used to make but just hadn't done it. Not only did I not have her "recipe" (she didn't have a recipe either, she just made it), I'd never canned anything before and it intimidated me. When I wrote the post about it back in June, I remembered an article I'd saved from Martha Stewart Living years ago that was all about saft, a sweetened berry juice concentrate often enjoyed in Sweden and other places. I couldn't find the article in my files and I couldn't find it on her site, but I did find someone else who had made Martha's recipe. So yesterday, since my cold was on its way out, I decided I'd try my hand at it.
Saft is normally made from berries, but I wanted to make it with plums. The only problem I saw with that is that I don't have the same kind of plums that my grandmother had. She had some sort of plum tree in her back yard and she took some from the neighbor's tree too. The plums were not something you'd want to eat - too tart - but they made great juice. The plums you buy at the grocery store are decidedly less tart. I also would have loved to be able to go to a farm or farmer's market to get my fruit, but I wasn't patient enough for that. So V and I went to the grocery store and got two pounds of plums and then enough blackberries and blueberries to equal 3 pounds.
Out of that, I rinsed 10 blackberries to give to V. She loves blackberries! I figured the blackberries and blueberries might be a little stronger than the plums and would add to the taste. They sure are pretty!
I put them in a medium saucepan with two cups of water and simmered for 30 minutes. Here they are at the beginning...
...and here they are after 30 minutes. Cooking, they smelled exactly like my grandmother's plum juice. Let me tell you, I was psyched!
I had to buy a few extra supplies to make the saft. I bought a pillowcase to drain the fruit, some canning jars, and some tools (they all came together, but some of them I didn't need for this project) to help with the canning - like a can lifter. I don't have a canning pot - I just used my soup pot. I also don't have a rack to put in the bottom of my big pot, so I used a washrag. It was the best I could do. Anyway, I'm getting way ahead of myself, more on all this in part 2.
After 30 minutes, I poured the berry mixture into a bowl that I had lined with the pillowcase. I put a towel on the floor (why white? don't ask me. i'm still sick-ish and my brain is fuzzy.) in case I spilled and because the fruit would be hot so it seemed like the thing to do.
Then I tied the pillowcase to a broom handle suspended across two chairs. This drains all the goodness into the bowl. Don't squeeze the pillowcase!! It'll make your juice cloudy. It sat like this for two hours.
I really enjoyed making the saft and will post part 2 in a day or two. In that post, I'll show you how I canned it, tell you how it tastes, and tell you what I'll do differently next time.