Urban Preserving: Italian Plum Jam with Star Anise

chopped plums

The day before Hurricane Irene hit the east coast, a massive box of fruit arrived on my doorstep. It was from the Washington State Fruit Commission, the folks behind the most fabulous website Sweet Preservation. A few weeks earlier, they’d emailed to ask if I’d be one of their Canbassadors again this year (last year’s recipes can be found here and here).

macerating plums

Last year, I got apricots and cherries. This year, it was a fun blend of Italian plums, apricots, nectarines and peaches. So far, I’ve made a small batch of lavender-infused, honey-sweetened apricot butter (you’ll see that one over on Simple Bites soon), an oven-roasted peach butter (it’s a technique I detail in my cookbook, but I’ll give you a little preview before the peaches are out of season) and this tiny batch of plum jam with star anise. The nectarines are still in the fridge, waiting for inspiration to strike.

truffle tremor

I only had about a pound of these little plums, so by necessity, this was a small batch. Chopped, there just over 2 cups of fruit. Combined with a moderate amount of sugar and three star anise flowers, I let this macerate at room temperature until it was beautifully syrup-y. Tasting every 15 minutes or so, I left the star anise in while it sat, but pulled them out before cooking, to ensure that I didn’t cross the line from gently flavored to something akin to Nyquil.

truffle tremor with plum star anise jam

As it was cooking, I tasted. Most of the time, I taste jam just once or twice as it cooks down. This time, I tried it at least five or six times because I was so in love with the way the plums played with the flavor of the star anise. As I tasted, I started thinking about the cheese I had in the fridge.

Awhile back, the folks from Cypress Grove sent me a few of their startling good goat cheeses. The idea was for me to dream up a few perfectly paired jams to match up with them. And while I hadn’t started this batch of jam thinking to couple it with one of those cheeses, it’s just gorgeous with the Truffle Tremor. The slight, mystical funkiness of that cheese just sings with the plums and their trace of star anise.

I’ve eaten the combination for lunch at least three times already. I can’t promise that there won’t be a fourth.

Recipe after the jump…

Italian Plum Jam with Star Anise

Yield: 1 Pint

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups chopped Italian plums
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 star anise blossoms

Instructions

  1. Combine chopped plums, sugar and star anise blossoms. Let sit for at least an hour, or until the fruit has gotten quite syrup-y.
  2. Put fruit in a medium-sized pan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the jam thickens and passes the plate test.
  3. Because this jam has such a small yield, you can skip the canning step and just pour it into the jars and pop it into the fridge. Or, you can pull out your small batch canning set-up and put up either one pint or two half pints (all the better to share with your friends!).
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Disclosure: I received both the fruit and the cheese mentioned in this post at no cost to me. However, no money exchanged hands and all opinions expressed herein are my own.

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62 Responses to Urban Preserving: Italian Plum Jam with Star Anise

  1. 1
    Amanda says:

    Goodness, what a lovely thing to find after buying five pounds of these beautiful plums and having some leftover from making pflaumenkuchen tonight!

  2. 2
    Ted Fristrom says:

    Everything goes well with truffle tremor. Except maybe toothpaste.

  3. 3
    Robin says:

    I have got to get some plums and try this. I love them, but haven’t tried them in jam before – which sounds totally dumb given the amount of jam I make. I especially love those jams that are so good you can’t stop trying to find ways to use them at every meal. This one sounds perfect!

  4. 4
    Katherina says:

    This is similar to the Pflaumenmus that I make that every year, but it has other spices as well. I think I am going to give your recipe a try and use only the star anise. I like the way you have a nice chunky jam rather than nearly a puree that I usually do. Can’t wait to try this, thanks!

  5. 5
    Christina says:

    Perfect timing as I just picked up a pound of plums from the farmer’s market yesterday. Please continue with the mini batches — sometimes that’s all the fruit I have and/or it makes all the jam I have room for in my small pantry.

  6. 6
    Tommi Nick says:

    Sounds like a very tasty combination. I’m glad to see some Cypress Grove involved – their cheese is a favorite of mine and I live in Arcata, the same town that Cypress Grove calls home, so it’s great to see some of my local cheese on a favorite blog.

  7. 7
    Ellen says:

    I have a tree-full of these. Well I did until yesterday morning. Since they were starting to fall all over, I figured I’d better pick them. I made plum and squash chutney, a plum cake, and am drying some. Maybe I’ll try some jam tonight.

  8. 8
    Georgia says:

    Your recipes literally make me salivate. This one especially. Thanks!

  9. 9
    Sandy says:

    Are Italian plums and prune plums the same thing?

  10. 10
    mary w says:

    Thanks for all your recipes. I’m new to canning this year and you’ve helped me so much…your canning 101 posts, explainations of techniques that transcend the particular recipe (e.g., crock pot fruit butter), and small batch recipes. I especially love your use of spices and other flavoring to make something different.

    Inspired by your jar collection I now compulsively check craigslist for cheap and vintage jars.
    When is your cook book coming out? In time for Christmas I hope.

  11. 11
    Molly Odell says:

    I’m so happy to see this post as I just picked a few of my Italian plums off of my tree. I’m heading out of town in a couple of days, so wanted to use them up before I left.

    Do you leave the skins on your plums? It looks like it in the photo, but another recipe I read said the skin would be too thick to leave in the jam.

    Thanks!

  12. 12
    Christine says:

    I have a bunch of plums I would love to use up today but I do not have any star anise and I do not want to drag my two year old and 37 week pregnant self to the store in the rain to get some! Do you think it would be ok to add cinnamon stick, nutmag or vanilla to it?

  13. 13
    EB says:

    What a lovely combination!

  14. 14
    Sarah says:

    I just died a little inside. I have neither those plums nor any Truffle Tremor. Woe.

  15. 15
    Caroline says:

    I am making this recipe today (my first time making jam ever!), and have a question about the cooking directions. When you say to bring to a boil and then cook for 10-15 minutes, do you mean to let it boil for that long? Thank you for any insight, and I apologize in advance for the rookie question!

    • 15.1
      marisa says:

      Yes, I mean that you have to actively boil the fruit in order to get it to turn into jam. It takes high heat to get the kind of change in consistency that we’re looking for.

  16. 16
    Kathryn Z. says:

    For those of us who might be interested in larger-batch waterbath canning, do you think that you would make any significant changes to the recipe above when multiplying? I need to double check this against the basic plum jam recipe in the Ball book, but after a horrendous failed attempt at doubling a batch of raspberry jam last summer (raspberry syrup anyone?) I figured asking just in case wouldn’t hurt.

    Thanks!

  17. 17
    Victoria in VA says:

    Oh boy! I made this last week after finding italian plums on sale and seeing this recipe on the same day-serendipity indeed! This is absolutely delicious and very pretty as well. Definitely getting my jam mojo on this season!

    *I doubled the recipe without any problems-it was a bit of a leap of faith but I hoped that it would work because it was still a relatively small batch. And at the very worst, I would have some kick ass syrup to use!

  18. 18
    Sheryl says:

    Made this recipe this morning. I love the flavour so much it won’t last the weekend. A keeper, for sure! Glad to hear you can double it without any problems; next time I will definitely be making a larger quantity.

  19. 19
    Kristen says:

    This jam is delicious! The anise and plum go so well together. My favorite jam I have made.

  20. 20

    […] inspiration was the excellent Food in Jars web site, which raved about a plum-star anise jam recipe. But the local Chinese supermarket looked […]

  21. 21
    Germaine says:

    I guess I’m a jam snob or something along those lines. I’ve worked my way through my spice cabinet adding things to jams and marmalades, and have decided that I prefer the pure fruit product. I may combine fruit, but I prefer to leave out the extraneous flavors.

    Keep on experimenting. It is a lot of fun.

  22. 22
    Kiri says:

    I made a double batch of this today and it turned out glorious! The star anise is subtle but adds a wonderful layer to the flavor. My husband who doesn’t really like plums, or jams with skin and such in it, couldn’t stop eating it…success!

  23. 23
    Jennifer says:

    I just made the plum jam with cinnamon and nutmeg and it was dee-lish. I was a little hesitant because I have never made a no pectin jam before, but it turned out great. I have a green gage plum tree that runneth over this year. Do you think these plums would work with the star anise? Thanks.

  24. 24
    Rosanne says:

    Wow! what a nice change from raspberry and good old strawberry. The anise is such an amazing flavour with the plums. Will be great is some fall meat glazes I think! Thanks as always for some fresh, new ideas.

  25. 25
    Another Rebecca says:

    Quick question, if you do want to can it, does it need lemon juice or citric acid?
    Thanks so much for a great blog!

    • 25.1
      marisa says:

      Nope, plums are plenty acidic for canning without additional lemon juice. You can add it if you need it for flavor balancing, though.

  26. 26
    Molly Odell says:

    I finally got around to trying this recipe – delicious! I had never tried Star Anise before. I didn’t even know what it was. I was just in Southeast Asia on vacation, and after reading about the spice trade and seeing pictures of star anise everywhere, I decided I had to buy some there and bring it home.
    My plum tree was loaded with fruit when I got home, but I put off picking because I was so busy unpacking and getting back to work. Two days later I went out to harvest, and they were ALL GONE except for one poor little plum. It was tragic! The crows got all of them. There wasn’t even one on the ground, just a few shreds of skin. I did buy some at the farmer’s market yesterday though to make the jam. I do love the jam and I love the star anise flavor. But I am still bummed it wasn’t made with *my* plums. Next year perhaps I will be smarter and beat the crows!

  27. 27
    Cea says:

    Finally got around to tasting the damson jam with star anise I made inspired by your recipe, although I combined it with a boil-the-fruit-first recipe because it promised that it would be easier to get the stones out.

    Truly awesome. Shame I only made a few jars.

  28. 28
    Mara says:

    I just made a double batch of this and it was AMAZING. I don’t even like anise normally, but it was perfect in this jam. I did add the anise stars back in for the last few minutes of cooking since it was still too subtle of a flavor for me beforehand. I love love love the color and flavor of this jam. Quite excited to have 3 jars (and a little extra in my fridge) for this one! Debating making another double-batch since it was so good! Thanks again for such a great suggestion!

  29. 29

    […] before I forget, you can find the recipe here. I am looking forward to making it again tomorrow (and licking the pot once it’s cool […]

  30. 30
    gil says:

    Fantastic! I grabbed 25# today from Beechwood. Tarts for this weekend and then the rest into the freezer until inspiration sparks this Winter.

  31. 31
    Barbara schneider says:

    I have a time issue now so can’t make plum jam at moment. Do you recommend freezing them for later and if so can I freeze them whole? What method would you use? Should I cook them first and add sugar or wait till I am making the plum jam?

    Thank you

  32. 32
  33. 33

    […] blue plums instead of the damsons I found last year. It’s based on a recipe from the lovely Food in Jars web site, although I played around with the quantities to match the amount of plums available. I […]

  34. 34

    […] Then I sliced two pieces and added my (italian) plum star anise jam. […]

  35. 35
    Tyler M says:

    YUM! Just made a batch of this recipe when a neighbor gifted us a big bag of plums. Tripled the batch and got 4 half pints. Couldn’t get the temp past 205 but it set just fine. Thanks!

  36. 36
    TrishR says:

    WOW!!!!
    I made this 2 weeks ago with a quart of plums I picked up at the local market. Tasted it last night and cannot wait to get back to the market today, hoping they still have some. This is my new favorite! I am not the biggest fan of anise flavoring, so took the star anise out maybe a bit too early, but won’t make that mistake this time. Its such a mild flavor that blends perfectly with the plums. And it set perfectly with just following the time for boiling – no thermometers or plate tests needed. (Though I’ll admit I am not very particular when it comes to how “well” my jam sets).

    Thanks for another winner!!!! If you were to see my cupboard shelves, you would see I’ve been checking off quite a few of your book and website recipes. Good thing I bake bread every week, ’cause we got a lot of jam!

  37. 37

    […] and Syrups: 7. Plum and Star Anise Jam. This is amazing stuff, adored by everyone except Mr. Husband. I served it to house guests last […]

  38. 38

    […] Spiced Plum Jam Adapted from Food in Jars […]

  39. 39

    […] 4 batches of canning (Chutney, 1 lone jar of anise plum jam that is long gone, and 2 batches of asian plum […]

  40. 40
    Lyn D says:

    I tried this recipe today.I made 3 batches and I would like to suggest renaming the recipe to”lick the pot clean” plum jam. the flavor of this jam is amazing.Thank you.

  41. 41
    Linn says:

    HI Marisa! I made this Plum jam with Anise and I am just in love with the whole idea! I will be building more probably tomorrow… I may have to double the recipe, as I know I am going to give it away and I will keep sampling it myself!
    Thank you thank you…. it’s wonderful!!
    Linn

  42. 42
    courtney says:

    please oh please tell me there will be plums at the market for another couple of weeks. i just made this from a quart i bought on saturday and it is FANTASTIC. and i am clean out of half pints!! must make more for putting up!!

    it is sweet tart & rich and i will eat it by the spoonful on toast, just as prescribed. christmas will be a little bit merrier with a few more jars for giving. :) thanks for another brilliant small batch recipe.

  43. 43
    Brenda says:

    Just made a batch of this today, tossed in some cinnamon and. . omg. . . it’s the best jam I’ve ever had in my life! I was licking the spoon after I got them into jars. Simply amazing.

  44. 44
    Rebekah says:

    I just made this jam and threw in a peach because I didn’t have quite enough plums. It was amazing!

  45. 45
    Suzy says:

    This jam is incredible. I made it twice and had to double the batch the second time around. It’s waaay too good for a small batch. Must be shared.

  46. 46
    Heather says:

    I have been wanting to make this since last year! I picked up some Italian plums at the market on the weekend and made this plus 1 pint of plums in honey syrup. This is the most amazing tasting and gorgeous looking jam. I doubled the recipe and came out with just under 3 half pints. I will be making a much larger batch of this next time because 3 jars just isn’t enough! Thanks for another delicious recipe.

  47. 47
    Karen says:

    We finally have plums from our young tree. this sounds like a great way to use some of them. Thanks

  48. 48

    […] in October, I’ve churned out jars of peach slices and over a dozen little jars of lovely Italian plum and star anise jam from Food In Jars (excellent on top of brie and goat […]

  49. 49

    […] found this great recipe on Food in Jars for Plum Jam with Star Anise.   She calls it jam, however if there is no pectin involved, I call […]

  50. 50

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