I recently had canning weekend with my sister. We made all sorts of things, but one of the highlights was plum jam made with Italian prune plums. Prune plums are one of my favorite summer treats – I end up eating 4 or 5 of them per day when they’re in the height of their season. I find them to have a more distinctive flavor than regular plums and their cute oblong shape doesn’t hurt either.
We followed a basic canning recipe for jam, starting by washing and dicing all the fruit. I tasted a few of the kernels (almond looking nuts inside the shells) while we were chopping and was surprised by how tasty they were. That being said, I wouldn’t go out of my way to harvest them or add them to the jam as some recipes suggest.
We boiled our plums on the stove-top for about an hour. It was fascinating to see how red the color became as the purple plums cooked down. We used pectin in this jam and followed the basic pectin recipe, although with about 1 cup less sugar than the recipe called for. I have made some jams without pectin, but I tend to take a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach. Since pectin is an all natural substance derived from apples I don’t mind having it in my jam and it eliminates the worry about proper setting.
The jam developed a beautiful plumy flavor. I can’t wait to spread it on toast this winter and bring back the flavors and feelings of summer. For some reason I also think this jam would be particularly good on cornbread or a corn muffin.
We filled our jars and processed them in my pressure caner. A regular boiling water caner is also fine for jam, but I was on a roll with the pressure caner and threw these in as well. It is such a satisfying feeling to hear the lips pop as the jars cool off and seal. Once all the lids are popped you should store your cans in a cool dark place. In theory they should be eaten over the next year, but I’ve certainly eaten jam older than that and it’s been perfectly fine. As with any canned good, be sure to sniff the jar and look for mold when you open it – if you see anything fishy toss the whole jar.
For those of you intimidated by the canning process, give freezer jam a try. Make the jam and store it in plastic containers in the freezer. My first batch of jam ever was freezer jam and it helped introduce me to the world of jams and build my confidence to tackle boiling water canning.
If you enjoy making jam, you might want to give apple butter a try!