Spiced Plum Jam

When I was very young, my family lived in an old house in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Eagle Rock. We had a trio of plum trees that produced great heaps of fruit every other year. My parents would fill paper grocery bags with plums and pass them out to friends and neighbors. Even after those bags were distributed, there were always more plums.

My mom would always make two or three batches of delicious, runny plum jam, spiked with cinnamon and bright with lemon zest that we’d eat on oatmeal, pancakes, and yogurt. Because of those preserves, the flavor of plum jam satisfies my deepest taste memories in a way that other jams can’t touch.

This recipe is my attempt to recreate that childhood jam. The only difference is that I use a bit of pectin to ensure that mine has a firmer set than the batches my mom used to make.

Spiced Plum Jam

Yield: makes 7 to 8 half pints

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds plums, pitted and diced
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons powdered fruit pectin (not the low sugar variety)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested

Instructions

  1. Prepare a boiling water bath canner and 7-8 half pint jars.
  2. Heap the prepared plums in a large, non-reactive pan.
  3. Whisk together the sugar, pectin, cinnamon, and nutmeg together and add it to the plums. Stir to combine.
  4. When the plums are quite juicy and most of the sugar has dissolved, add the lemon juice and zest, and place the pan on the stove over high heat.
  5. Bring the fruit to a full boil and then reduce the heat to medium high.
  6. Cook the fruit at a low boil, stirring regularly, for 25 to 30 minutes, until the plums soften and the syrup thickens. You’ll know when the jam is done because it will become more resistant to stirring, and when you pull the spoon out of the pan, the droplets will be thick and slow moving.
  7. When the jam is done, remove the pan from the heat. Funnel it into the prepared jars.
  8. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process the jars in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes (do not start your timer until the pot returns to a full, rolling boil).
  9. Once the time is up, remove the jars from the canner and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. The lids should seal promptly and will often make a pinging or popping sound as the vacuum forms. When the jars are sealed, the center of the lids will be concave and when pressed, the lid will not move or wiggle.
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