Friday, September 26, 2008

Spiced Golden Plum Jam

Freshly-made jars of yellow plum jam bask in the afternoon sun

It's so easy to wax poetic about the autumn season: the colors of the leaves, the cool mornings, the appearance of handknit woolies for the little ones, and the abundance of stunning produce at the open air markets. It's a gorgeous season to revel in and every time it rolls around I am happy to be in Quebec.
My early childhood years were spent in the Yukon where fall was nonexistent. One day it would be summer, with green hills and bright yellow zucchini flowers blooming in the kitchen garden, and the next day I would wake up to frosted window panes. If I scratched a peek hole with my fingernail, I would see a motionless Lake Laberge, completely iced over, a brown frost-killed garden and the breath from the goats hanging in the cold air as they chewed their cud.
Winter. It always struck without warning and when it arrived, it stayed for almost nine months. Fortunately, as an energetic nature-loving little girl, I embraced winter for all that it offered: sledding parties with hot cocoa on the wood stove, ice skating for miles and miles, snow ice cream, igloos and cross-country skiing.
But why am I talking about winter? I'm shivering just thinking about it! Where was I? Oh yes, Autumn in Quebec.

This time of the year always makes me want to hole up in the kitchen for days on end with the finest ingredients of the season and create copious amounts of food. Pies stuffed full of apples, velvety squash soups, slowly braised meats with herbs, beans baked in apple cider, and the list goes on.
If I have my way, October is going to be a very busy month Under the High Chair.
For now, though, I am working on preserving some of summer's last produce before moving on to the fall goods. This spiced yellow plum jam turned out so well, it left me asking myself why on earth I had never made plum jam before?!
It's tart taste and gorgeous sunny color is a joy to wake up to in the morning. The spices add a subtle complexity that you might not catch until after your first cup of coffee.
Best enjoyed on fresh scones.

OK, so this is the "Aimee's Speedy, Somewhat Controversial, But Tried and True Version" of the jam. For the original, no shortcuts version, go here. You may be surprised to know that most people I talk to sterilize their jars in their dishwasher and find that as long as you are ladling HOT fruit into HOT jars and topping with a HOT lid (and never touch the inside of the jar) the jams seal themselves and there is no need to process in hot water afterward. This is now my method for jam and I haven't had any problems. Of course with the amount of sugar in the jam and the speed at which they get consumed around here, there's no chance of them ever going bad!
What's your canning method? Any thoughts?

Spiced Golden Plum Jam

3 1/2 lbs golden plums, washed
1/2 cup apple juice
4 inch cinnamon stick
6 green cardamom pods, bruised
4 whole cloves
6 2/3 cups sugar
1 pouch liquid pectin

Prepare your canning station by collecting all your tools: a pair of tongs, a 1-cup glass measuring cup, a wide-mouth jar funnel, a spatula and a few clean dish towels, one of those awesome wands with a magnet on the end for lifting the lids out of the hot water.
Place 8-250 ml in an empty dishwasher (this is not the time to clean breakfast dishes as well)and run a cycle. When jars are on the dry cycle, start your jam.
Place your sealing discs ( the lids) in a small pot and cover with hot water. Keep very hot, but do not boil. Place jar rings within easy reach.

Half, pit and roughly chop plums. Tie spices together in a square of cheesecloth for a spice bag.
In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan, combine prepared plums, apple juice and spice bag. Over medium heat, bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Partially cover, reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set spice bag aside to be added in later.

In a clean stainless steel saucepan, combine 4-1/2 cups (1.125 L) of the cooked mixture, spice bag, 1/2 tsp (2 ml) butter or margarine (to reduce foaming) and all of the sugar. Over high heat, stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Stir in the liquid pectin. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat, skim off foam and discard spice bag.
Using a tea towel to protect your fingers from the heat, take a hot jar from the dishwasher and place on your counter.
Ladle hot jam into a hot jar to within 1/4 inch of top of jar (head space). Using nonmetallic utensil, remove air bubbles and adjust head space, if required, by adding more jam. Wipe jar rim removing any food residue. Center hot sealing disc on clean jar rim. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight.

Spread out a tea towel on your counter and place the jar of jam on it. Repeat canning process with remaining seven jars.
Leave jars to cool 24 hours with out touching them. After 24 hours is up, check that all jars have sealed. If any have not, store them in the fridge and use first. Store the rest in a cool, dark place.

For more Jam & Jelly recipes visit these posts:

Maple Apple Butter
Crabapple Jelly


abigail @ Paper and Cake said...

i do love Autumn, although it's mainly because she is my daughter :)

your plum jam looks like gold... and i am so looking forward to all the wonderful foods you create in october.

missweb said...

I don't have a dishwasher so I wash my jars by hand and then put them in the oven, keeping them there till I'm ready to fill.

I love your jars. Nice wide mouths but squatty. Do tell where you found, please!!!

Deborah said...

I used to process my jam in boiling water, but have given that up. I just make sure my jars are clean and sterilized and put them in a 200F oven until I fill them, fill them with hot jam, and all is good. My mom told me there's no reason to do it the hard way, and I trust my mom!!

This plum jam sounds wonderful. I don't think I've ever had plum jam before!

Brenda P. said...

We just did a canning class at the grocery store and I was stunned at how easy it was...even if you do use a hot bath/pressure cooker. How was this not on my radar?!? We discussed the "just using sterile jars" approached and agreed that, as long as you have a vacuum seal, the contents will be protected.

I would love to come up with a canning project that includes arranging ingredients around the outside edges...potential for some beautiful shelf decoration.

You have such a lovely design sense, I imagine your jars would be beautiful (if Noah's cake is any indication...).

Cheryl Arkison said...

I'm even lazier when it comes to canning. I wash them and leave them in clean HOT water until ready to use. Jars, lids, and then hot filling. I never process and I've never had a problem. If you don't hear the lids pop then use those ones first and store in the fridge. This jam looks very yummy.

LyB said...

You mean the jars get sealed and "pop" even without a water bath after filling them? Well, I managed to get a batch that didn't even pop after a 10 minute, rolling boil bath after filling! I am not lucky. Or I'm no good at canning, hmph. Love the cute jars! Did you have a hard time filling them and removing the bubbles? Those are the ones that never "popped" for me. I wonder if I didn't have enough head space, or too much? OK, I'm done with my novel. :) Love the color of that jam, and it sounds delicious!

Aimée said...

Hi Abigail- How sweet! What a pretty name.

Hi Cara- Guess. Canadian Tire! Love them.

Hi Deb- Good tips, and a mother is always right.

Hi Brenda- Welcome to UtHC! I'd love to hear more abut that project.

Hi Cheryl- Not lazy- practical! Again, good tips.

Hi Lyb- You learn something every day, eh? I almost never stir to remove bubbles--was your wand sterilized? Sorry about your bad luck. Keep trying!

Varina said...

That's funny I do just the opposite. Sterilizing jars seems like such a pain, so I process my jars for 10 minutes (I have to anyway actually, actually since I live 1,000 ft/ 200 meters above sea level). I have also never had a jar seal prior to processing, but then these lousy European one piece lids are harder to seal anyway.

This jam looks delicious by the way. Plum season seems about over here, but I'll keep an eye out so I can make this.

Peter M said...

I love the colour of the's like gold!

You picked some pretty and practical jars...good for scooping every last drop of jam.

Baked, By Anna said...

Oh, that's gorgeous! I find that at least a few times a year I'll make some "long-keeping" jam that's full of sugar, but more often I'll reduce it and just have it around for a few weeks in the fridge. It never lasts that long! Looking forward to your Fall recipes--I don't have one here in So Cal.

Trish said...

Love the jars; love the jam!

But on a practical note... how in the world do you find time to do this with two little ones underfoot? I can barely find enough time to eat a bowl of cereal before someone comes running/yelling for me... what is your secret? (I hope you're not making jam at 2:00 a.m.)

RecipeGirl said...

Those are just beautiful. And I love the *basking* picture :)

Emily said...

I know I would enjoy this. The combination of plum and spices sounds amazing.

I didn't know you lived in the Yukon. I've never been up north at all. I want to hear more Yukon stories! I think that's cool.

test it comm said...

What an amazing yellow colour!

Unknown said...

where does one find green cardamom pods?

Unknown said...

Was thinking of making your jam now and put away for Christmas gifts. Will it keep that long? I am a complete jam virgin!

Aimée said...

Hi Kate- I'm still enjoying my jam from last summer! Yes, it will keep a year at least.

Meadowlark said...

Is it accurate that I shouldn't use ripe plums (soft)??? A friend is bringing a batch from a tree and I know they'll be ripe-ripe rather than firm-ripe. Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

You can't always assume that the hot jar/hot jam/ hot lid method will preserve things safely. After all that work, why risk having your jam go bad? There's lots of things we used to do, that we don't any more because we know better from science and research. I always water bath process my preserves and I can be sure that because of it, no one will become ill from eating what I prepare. What you do in your kitchen is your business, but I do not think it is very responsible to promote a method that is not recommended if you want optimum flavour and food safety.

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