Monday, October 22, 2012

Plum & Ginger Jam

There's nothing quite like picking perfectly ripe fruit directly off the tree. Growing up in California, I was lucky enough to have a Santa Rosa plum tree in my backyard. I remember late summer afternoons playing outside and suddenly craving a juicy plum. I'll never forget the explosion of flavor with every bite. One year, our tree produced so much fruit I had to offer bags overflowing with plums to all our neighbors. In retrospect, I wish I had this recipe to put all those plums to good use! 

Years later, our plum tree got sick and my dad had to chop it down. Such a travesty (the worst part is, the stump still remains- a sad reminder of all those delicious plums)! Though the tree may be gone, this jam captures the essence of those incredibly flavorful plums I grew up with. 

For this recipe, I've used a combination of Italian plums and red plums. The red plums gave a beautiful crimson color to the jam. Plums and ginger are a natural combination, but sometimes fresh ginger can overpower a jam, masking the plums delicate flavor. When developing the recipe, I was mindful of this risk, and feel I've struck a nice balance. It's delightfully plummy, with a subtle kick of ginger. A perfect jam at the breakfast table for fall and winter!


2 1/2 lbs. (about 6 to 7 cups) unpeeled, pitted, roughly chopped plums (I used a combination of Italian and red plums)
2 to 2 1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1/4 cup water
3 tbsp. lemon juice
3 cups sugar
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. allspice

Place 1 or 2 small plates in the freezer for testing the jam later on.

Add all of the ingredients to a large Dutch-oven or stainless steel pot and stir to combine. Mash the fruit slightly and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot. Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a constant, even boil, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the jam reaches 220 degrees F. Scrape off any foam that accumulates while boiling (if the jam seems especially foamy, add 1/2 tsp. of butter and stir). 

Begin testing the jam to see that it has set after about 15 minutes (remove the pot from heat and retrieve a plate from the freezer. Place a dollop of jam on the plate and return it to the freezer for a couple of minutes. Run your finger through the jam and if it wrinkles slightly, and does not run back together, it's done. If it's still a bit runny, return the pot to the heat and bring to a boil. Continue checking every couple of minutes in the same manner until done). Taste the jam and if you prefer a little more ginger, grate an additional 1/2 tsp. into the pot and stir to combine. 

Ladle the jam into hot, clean jars, leaving a headspace of 1/4-inch. Remove any air bubbles, wipe rims, and apply lids and rings. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water-bath canner (for 4 oz. jelly jars or 8 oz. half pint jars). Turn off heat, remove lid, and let jars sit in canner for 3 to 5 minutes before removing. Allow jars to rest on a dishtowel undisturbed for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Check seals, label, and store in a cool dark place for up to a year. If any jars did not seal properly, place them in the fridge and use first. For more information, see my step-by-step guide to canning here.

Yield: 4 cups

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