We've all seen the branches hanging heavy with beautiful ripening fruit. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the sheer abundance of ripe fruit, first share with friends and neighbors, and second, try some some simple ways to preserve the harvest like making jams and jelly.
Jams, jellies, and preserves are a great way to extend the life of abundant backyard fruit.
Quick Plum Preserve
Yields about 2½ cups
2 pounds fresh plums, halved and pitted*
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
Coarsely chop plums and stir together with water, sugar, and cinnamon stick in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally (more often toward the end of cooking) until thickened and reduced to about 2½ cups, 45–60 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick and cool preserve. Transfer to an airtight container and chill. Keeps at least one month in the fridge.
*Note: One technique to pit small "wild" plums is to simmer fruit in a crock pot until cooked through and soft. Remove the pits by hand. If you separate the juice from the pulp, the juice can be used to make jelly and the pulp can be pulsed in the blender to make thick, jam.
For more information on canning and food preservation, see the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
For more information on gleaning and backyard fruit donation, visit Backyard Harvest and Gleaning.