Lots of great-looking fruit in the produce section these days. Apricots have come and gone, but plums and plumcots (and their more exotic cousins) are abundant and rather nicely priced. Since I know some of the Clan enjoy plum flavor a lot, I decided to try my hand at a plum jam. Two versions from one pot, actually. I still had a few nice-looking, golden Habañero chiles in the chillbox…
First, the main fruit. I started with three large, black plums and four medium-sized, ruby plumcots. To these I added a pint of fresh blackberries for their complex flavor, but even more for their natural pectin and acid. I also used a cup of prickly pear juice, since I have that in abundance and it adds nice flavor surprises and sweetness.
I cut the plums and plumcots into small pieces first. I washed the blackberries and put them into the jelly pot and crushed them a bit using a common potato masher. I dumped in the plum bits and the pear juice, then started the heat. (The canner was already heating, and the jars were waiting in a 200° F oven.) I measured out 1½ cups each of sugar and sucralose; not too much sweetener required, with fruit this ripe and delicious! I added a quarter cup of lemon juice to the pot to be sure there was enough acid to activate the pectin.
Once the jam got to a good boil I stirred for a few minutes, to be sure everything was uniformly heated and the fruit had time to release pectin. I used the standard cold-plate method for testing jell point. It took a few more minutes of boiling, but not much! I was tempted to simply add some commercial pectin, but I resisted. These fruits have plenty of pectin in them, even when ripe, so I wasn’t too worried. Sure enough, the jell took nicely on the second test; I moved to canning.
I got four half-pint jars of simple plum jam without any chiles in, and moved to canning them while I got the rest of the materials prepped for the Zing Plum Jam. I took three nice Habañero chiles and carefully cut the flesh from the seeds. I puréed these with a bit of lemon juice and some of the jam; about an ounce or so, not too much. This purée went into the jam and I turned the heat on high and got it all boiling for a minute or two, with vigorous stirring. At this point I had to be careful not to over-cook, as the pectin could break down. While the first round of jam jars were finishing in the canner I filled up three more half-pints with the zesty jam. They were canned in a second round in the boiling water bath. You can’t tell them apart by looking, which means it’s a Good Thing I did two rounds of canning; otherwise somebody might have been in for a hot surprise at breakfast…
If You Can’t Take the Heat, Don’t Jam the Dragon…
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