There are several plum-apricot hybrid varieties that kids can grow, with pluots being the most common. Pluots are first generation crossbreeds of 75% plum and 25% apricot. These hybrid trees are the result of pollinating the flowers of plums with the flowers of apricots. Both are stone fruits and grown widely in California. They are hand pollinated, not genetically modified. Pluots require at least 600 chill hours a year. A pluot is a nutritional powerhouse, high in Vitamin A and C, potassium, and fiber. Pluots look like a fuzzy plum and are sweeter than either a plum or an apricot. Kids can cover the tree with bird netting to protect the fruit.
Kids can pick 10 pluots, wash, sort, remove from the stems, and weigh 3 pounds on the scale. Put them in a 6 – 8 quart pot and add 3 cups of organic cane sugar, 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, and ¼ tsp sea salt. Over a medium heat, stir the mixture frequently, skimming and removing foam from the top, and cook for 20 minutes. Let cool. Ladle a little of the mixture at a time into a blender, puree the skins and pulp, and pour into a large bowl. Repeat until all the mixture is blended. Pour the mixture through a strainer into the large pot, press down on the mixture in the strainer with a spoon, and discard remaining solids. Bring the pluot mixture to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, skimming foam and stirring occasionally.
Wash 4 or 5 (8 ounce) canning jars with lids and screw bands in a large bowl of hot soapy water and rinse well. Return them to the bowl and submerge them in hot water. Drain jars upside down on a clean kitchen towel 1 minute. Ladle jam into the jars, leaving ¼ inch of space on top. Wipe off rims of filled jars, top with lids, and screw on bands. Label and date the jars. Put the jars in the refrigerator, eat any that haven’t sealed properly first. The preserves will thicken as they cool. Allow the jars to cool and the flavor to develop 24 hours before tasting.