Yeah, so I have kind of a Love-Hate relationship with plums. I love the trees. Love the white "popcorn" blossoms in springtime (Dad's Satsuma plum tree blossomed, big-time, the day after he passed away - and I kind of always viewed that as a "sign" that he was Okay in the Great Beyond). I love the fruit. Love picking a ripe juicy plum, still warm off the tree, wiping it on my shirt and taking a big, tart, goozy-drippy bite as the juice runs down my chin! "Mmmm! Yeah!"
But plums are one of those fruits that produces in such OVER-ABUNDANCE in such a short period of time, well, it can get kind of overwhelming! And we have TWO plum trees that produce over-abundantly and very close together (maybe 2-3 weeks apart). Friends, neighbors, co-workers, complete-strangers-on-the-street start to run in fear when they see me approaching with a suspiciously lumpy shopping bag!
A Plethora of Plums
(This is just one day's worth of picking. There's plenty more on the way!)
(Note: I did NOT promise a ramble-free experience!)
Anyway... A few years ago, I made a couple of plum pies. Tasty, but kinda runny. They were like gloopy purple peach-pies!
And I also had my first (horrifically-bad) experience with canning, many years ago, when I attempted to make plum-jam in a water-bath. BEFORE I realized that our smooth ceramic-cooktop could not generate enough heat to bring a water-bath canner to boiling. That was a HUGE debacle (that I've whined-about in past-posts - but it was traumatic-enough to bear repeating!!) (I lost four hours of my life that day!!!).
Well, since then, I have *almost* perfected my canning skills to the point where I no longer fear killing anyone (nor burning the house down), so I consider that "Progress!"
I've posted Plum Jam Recipes before, but whenever I endeavor to make a NEW batch of Plum Jam, I seem to "conveniently forget" what a Hot Pain in the @$$ it is to make!
I generally start here. Do NOT let their post-title fool you. I think that's why I keep falling for it! "How to make Plum Jam - Easily!" Making Plum Jam is like childbirth - you tend to block the more unpleasant parts from your memory! So today I am posting GRAPHIC PICTURES of what is involved with making plum jam - while posting my Most Delicious Recipe. My hope is that I will *finally* learn from my mistakes and, next year, when I go back to my blog and search for "Plum Jam" I will be reminded of why I limit myself to ONE BATCH PER YEAR!!!
My earlier Plum Jam recipe was a freezer-jam, but it illustrates the "blanching" process pretty well. So if you don't know how to blanch, go there!
Today's Plum Jam is a fully-cooked, fully processed version. And it is incredibly tasty! Tart and Sweet and Spicy all at the same time. But - let me warn you - it is a fairly time-consuming endeavor, so plan on setting-aside at least two hours to make it. Santa Rosa Plums (which are the same variety sold in most grocery stores) are NOT "freestone."
Teensy bit of education (before I move onto the recipe. Hang in there, it's comin'!): Stonefruits are fruits with pits. Peaches, Nectarines, Plums, Apricots... "Freestone" are varieties where the pit is not firmly attached to the fruit's flesh so, like when you open-up an apricot and it splits freely and the pit can be easily removed? That's "Freestone." "Cling" is the exact opposite. THAT'S the camp that Santa Rosa Plums fall into!
Okay, that said. The "Making of Jam" is pretty easy (so I'll agree - to that extent - with pickyourown.org's website). It's the "Prepping of Fruit" that takes for-freaking-EVAR and turns your kitchen into a murder-scene worthy of any episode of "CSI: Whatever!"
Ready for the recipe?! Good! Cuz here it is:
QT's Low-Sugar Plum-Spice Jam
Time: At least 2 hours
Yield: 9 half-pint jars of jam
- 8 cups prepared fruit, skinned and pitted. (I'm guessing appx 4#. I'd started with 3 lbs, but it wasn't enough)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup water if your fruit is fruity and not soupy. (Mine was very juicy so I omitted the water)
- 4 cups sweetener (I broke mine down thusly: 1-1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1-1/2 cup granulated Splenda and 1 cup Splenda Brown-Sugar Blend)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- (opt) 1 tsp vanilla extract (the real-deal). (I forgot to add the vanilla, but it was still tasty!)
- 3 (+1/2) TBS Low/No-Sugar Pectin (the Ball brand jar of pectin called for 3 TBS, but I added a smidge more because I wanted a firm set)
- Blanch and peel and de-pit your plums (See my earlier post for illustrated instructions)
- Chop into 1/2" pieces (or whatever size you like your jam chunks to be)
- Sprinkle a little lemon juice (maybe a tsp) to keep the fruit from browning while you're prepping...
- Mix the pectin, in a dry bowl, with appx 1 cup of sweetener. Mix well with a fork.
- Dump the sweetener+pectin in with the fruit, along with the lemon juice, and mix well.
- Put the fruit/sweetener/pectin on the stove in a LARGE pot and cook, stirring constantly, on Medium-High 'til well-heated and well-mixed.
- Add the rest of your sweetener.
- Bring to a hard boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for one full minute.
- Remove from heat and check for "set."
- If it's set properly, ladle the jam into hot, sterilized half-pint jars (I use the "sterilize" + "heated dry" cycle on my dishwasher)
- Cap 'em and stick 'em in a canner.
- Process in a Water-bath for 7-10 minutes.
- Remove them and let them sit, undisturbed, overnight.
- Make sure the lids popped. If one (or two) didn't, pop 'em in the fridge and use them right away...
Okay... Now the pictures (and I didn't even capture shots of my - ahem - formerly white shirt, after the bloodbath!):
Note: My plums were SUPER juicy
Woulda made good compost, but I didn't want to risk dripping
plum-blood on the floor!
Awful lot of work for nine jars of jam!
Anyway, it was a boatload of work, but the end result really is delightfully delicious! (Even if I do have to scrub the living daylights out of our countertops now!)