Sep 19, 2010

Late Summer Plum Jam

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Do you ever get all fired up about the idea of certain food projects? Like you see a thing about pickling or bread making with a carefully nutured starter or something and out of nowhere you’re all, “Yes! Why don’t I do that?! I should be doing exactly THAT!”. And then you head directly to a kitchenware shop and drop ridiculous money on unitasking kitchen tools that you end up using exactly once?

Yeeeaaahhh. I’ve done that a time or two.

Like, say, jam making. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve boiled down fruit with sugar and canned it. And it’s sad, really. Because homemade jam is such a delightful thing to make and eat and give to other people. A true beacon of Americana, if you will.

Plus I own all the equipment I need to do some serious jam making without acquiring burns on 75 percent of my body (note: I say this because I bought said equipment after my own Macgyvered jam-making tools failed miserably and threatened to leave me with burns on 75 percent of my body). So the other day I told myself to get it together, brave the crazies at the mid-week Civic Center farmers’ market, see what was good and fresh and fruity, and make jam out of it. Plums won, big time.


Besides making you feel like you’re in a Norman Rockwell painting, jam making is one of those activities that sort of centers you. Chopping fresh fruit, measuring out sugar, dumping both in the biggest, oldest pot you’ve got, stirring, stirring, stirring with a big wooden spoon. It’s glorious. this is the stage of jam-making when I always wonder why in the world I don’t do this more often.

I get visions of making jam of every conceivable fruit combination and gifting my friends with carefully preserved jars that they can pop open months later for a taste of summer, when berries and stone fruits have long past their peak. It’s so romantic. Until–fast forward 30 minutes later–I am cursing while running my hand under cold water because of a wayward molten jam splatter. But when the jars are filled, capped and lined up, cooling on the counter, I’m glowing with acheivement, again wondering why I don’t do this more often, seared skin notwithstanding.


This batch of plum jam was nothing short of super late summer bliss. Bright, sweet-tart, hints of lemon, vanilla and a gossamer blanket of cinnamon to warm the whole thing up. And tasting exactly like a plum Jolly Rancher, if they ever made one. Can’t explain it, but it’s totally true. I’m just passing on my feelings to you here, like good friends do. Neosporin-ed hands and all.

Late Summer Plum Jam
Makes about 5 half-pint jars

Any variety of plums will work here. I found some lovely ones with a ruby-red interior that made for a stunning shade of jam, but those cute little Italian prune plums that are happening right now would be great too. Since plums are so thin-skinned, peeling isn’t necessary, so buying organic ones is an especially great idea.

If you want to can your packed jam jars, check out this great resourceCanning 101.

3 pounds plums (any variety–see note), washed, pitted and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
Zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 of a vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (Vietnamese or Saigon cinnamon, if you can find it)

In the biggest, heaviest pot you’ve got, stir together the plums and sugar. Let sit, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has given off some juice and the sugar has mostly dissolved, about 1 hour.

Set the pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the lemon zest and juice, vanilla bean and cinnamon. Bring to a hard boil, stirring often, until the jam is thickened and runs off the back of a spoon in big, heavy drops, about 25-30 minutes. While the jam is cooking, skim off any foam that comes to the surface. To test for doneness, spoon a dollop of jam onto a freezing cold plate and let it sit for a minute or two–of you can run your finger through the dollop and a track remains, the jam is done.

Ladle the hot jam into hot, sterilized jars, leaving about 1/4 inch of room at the top of each jar. Cap tightly and process the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes, or store in the refrigerator.

10 Comments

  • This sounds so good.. I'm gonna beg mum to make some of this :D

  • I just had to laugh! I got it in my head at the start of summer, that I was going to can. In one of my posts, I added up what one jar of blueberry jam cost me… and it was something like, $11.50 PER JAR!! Too funny!

  • Plums are one of my least favorite fruits, but once I tried a plum jam that blew my mind and ever since I love plum jam..is not easy to find here, I would LOVE to make some! thank for the recipe! i think vanilla and plums would be lovely! (:

    -Amalia

    http://buttersweetmelody.wordpress.com

  • This sounds so good with the vanilla bean and cinnamon. I may have to find some of those beautiful plums!

  • I know exactly what you mean.

    Making jam seems like it would feel so satifying. Kinda like baking bread or growing your own vegetables.

    And btw, I am all about anything that tastes like Jolly Ranchers.

  • Burnt hands or not, your plum jam sounds like it would be great year-round! The necessary equipment would make me unable to even have a bed in my apartment, I think, so I'll stick to stocking up my aunt's million jams in the fridge!

  • I can only imagine how delicious this jam was! I was recently in SF and had a blissful morning wandering around that very same farmer's market at Civic Center. The samples I had of plums and other stone fruits were truly astounding. How lucky that you can preserve those delectable tastes of summer with this jam!

  • God I wish they would make a plum jolly rancher! I guess I have to make this to find out what it would taste like!

  • This jam looks amazing! I've been on a jam making jag for about a month now. I just got some really cool custom labels. I hope to post them next week! Love your blog!!!!

  • This sounds so refreshingly good. and without commercial chemicals too!

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