Hundred-Year-Old Plum Conserve Recipe

Plums are coming into season, and are relatively inexpensive at the store, so I was pleased to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Plum Conserve. Conserves are a type of jam or marmalade that often includes citrus fruit, raisins, and nuts.

In addition to plums, this Plum Conserve contains a peach, an orange (including the peel), raisins, and pecans. It has a beautiful purple hue and is delightful on scones, baguettes, and other breads. It is also lovely with cheese (think brie and crackers).

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine, October, 1915)
Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine, October, 1915)

This recipe makes a lot of conserve. When I made the recipe, I halved it and I still got about 8 half-pints of Plum Conserve.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Plum Conserve

  • Servings: approximately 8 half-pints
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 quarts tart purple plums (about 2 pounds) – Plums that are not quite ripe work well in this recipe.

1 peach

1 orange

1/2 cup raisins

3 cups sugar

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Remove stones from plums and coarsely chop. Remove skin and stone from peach (I dipped the peach in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then slipped the skin off.); coarsely chop. Remove peel (and any excess white pith) from orange, and coarsely chop. Finely chop the orange peel.

Place the chopped plums, peach, orange, orange peel, and raisins in a dutch oven or large saucepan. Bring to a boil using medium heat while stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes, then stir in the sugar and pecans.

Continue to boil gently for 30-40 minutes or until the mixture is the consistency of jam. Stir frequently — especially towards the end of the cooking time.

A good way to tell if the mixture is the right consistency is to lay the spoon that is used for stirring on a plate. Allow the liquid clinging to the spoon to cool for a few seconds, and see if it has a jam-like consistency.

Pour mixture into hot one-half pint jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Wipe jar rim and adjust lids. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.

26 thoughts on “Hundred-Year-Old Plum Conserve Recipe

  1. I’ve never known what a “conserve” was. Now, I do. I wonder if the name came from the fact that it was a good way to conserve summer fruits.

    1. It’s nice to hear that you enjoyed this post. I did some “googling” before I made this recipe to try to get a better understanding of what conserves are. Several years ago I posted a hundred-year-old recipe for Cranberry Conserve that was more of a jellied salad. I really like that recipe and make it every year at the holidays – but I now think that it is not a typical conserve. I also think that if less sugar was used in this recipe that it might make an interesting fruit salad.

      1. I went to read the Cranberry Conserve recipe and it looks like my late aunt’s Cranberry Relish that she made at Thanksgiving. Different name for about the same thing. I know that my aunt said it was an old family recipe.

    1. I was surprised that the recipe called for both peach and citrus, but they both worked well with the plum. The peach flavor is very subtle in this recipe.

    1. I agree- I do think that it would be a great topper for yogurt. I’m going to have to buy some plain yogurt the next time I go to the store and give it a try. 🙂

    1. It’s always so tricky getting jelly and jams to set – especially if pectin is not used. This conserve is not as firm as many modern jams.

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