Monday, June 27, 2011

Jam Session: Spiced Plum & Vanilla Preserves

An act of kindness can go a long way. One evening I took a stroll with Baking Toddler and came upon an elderly man tending to his vegetable garden. I had admired his garden many times and decided to stop and compliment his hard work. After a short conversation, he offered me fresh plums from his tree and I immediately accepted.

I was so happy with my bag of tiny, sweet, red plums and knew exactly what to make. Spiced Plum & Vanilla Preserves-a recipe I had been eyeing for years! Turns out it is the...Best. Jam. Ever. Out of the jellies and jams I've made in the past, this is by far the most delectable.

I packaged up a jar of the ruby colored jam and delivered it to the kind man's door. His daughter answered and seemed so happy (and surprised) to receive my gift of appreciation. They quickly offered me more plums and invited me back for figs later on in the season. It seemed like my act of kindness had worked full circle.

This is an amazing recipe with several layers of flavor. There is a natural sweetness from the fruit, a hint of citrus, spice from the cloves and warmth from cinnamon and vanilla. This crimson jam, full of depth and flecked with vanilla beans reminds me of Christmas...hmmm...Christmas gifts???  Ehhhh, this might even be too good to share. :)
Spiced Plum-Vanilla Preserves
source:  Williams-Sonoma: Gifts from the Kitchen
makes about 4 pints
4 pounds plums
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
4 whole allspice
2 cinnamon sticks, each about 3 inches long
7 cups granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and then crosswise.
  1. Halve and pit the plums, then cut into 1/2 inch slices.  Place in a heavy non-aluminum saucepan and add orange and lemon juices, allspice and cinnamon.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Add the sugar and vanilla bean and stir until the sugar dissolves.  Simmer, uncovered, occasionally stirring and crushing the fruit with the back of a spoon (I use a potato masher), about 45 minutes, until the jelling stage is reached. ***To Test:  spoon 1 tablespoon preserves onto a chilled plate and place in the freezer for 2 minutes; it should wrinkle when gently pushed with a fingertip.
  3. Meanwhile, wash four 1-pint canning jars and lids in hot soapy water; rinse well.  Fill the jars with hot water.  Place the lids in a small saucepan.  Add water to cover and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat.
  4. Drain 1 jar.  Spoon the hot preserves and 1 vanilla bean piece into the jar within 1/4 inch of the top.  Using a towel dipped into hot water, immediately wipe the rim clean.  Drain 1 lid and place atop the jar; seal tightly with the screw band.  Repeat the process with the remaining jars.
  5. Follow the directions to process and process jars in a hot-water bath, check seals, label and store.  Always follow food safety guidelines when canning.


Maria said...

Homemade jam is the best! Love this flavor!

Anonymous said...

I was thrilled to find this post. This is my "famous jam" recipe. Yesterday I finally found some Santa Rosa plums at the market but when I got home realized I didn't have the recipe. (Original book was ruined in a house flood and is out of print; electronic version was stolen along with everything else on my computer last week; and all the relatives who have it are vacationing together, away from home!)

I have all the ingredients memorized but the amount of sugar but as you you, that's a critical one!

Phew, now I can preserve calmly!