Homemade Plum Jam & Canning Tips

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It’s plum season!  I have a lovely Santa Rosa Plum tree that grows the most delicious plums that have that perfect balance of sweet and tart.  I would have a hard time selling the house and moving because of this tree. One Arbor Day, almost 20 years ago, my very excited kids brought several sticks bare root fruit trees home from school. Now, I will have to admit that these ‘trees’ looked a lot like dead twigs to me, but as a good mother does, I along with my boys, ceremoniously planted them and thus began our now flourishing fruit orchard, home to plum, orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, nectarine, cherry, kumquat, satsuma, avocado, Asian pear and several apple trees.  The queen of the orchard though, is the Santa Rosa Plum tree, one of the unlikely Arbor Day trees which grew from a 3 foot bare root stick to a glorious 25 foot tall beauty.  Last year I was out of town when the fruit was ripe, but this year I have picked the fruit that is in reach and have been collecting ripe fruit as it falls to the ground.  Some of these get bruised or slightly injured when they fall which makes them less appetizing for eating but perfect for making jam.  So I save the perfect, most ripe specimens for my fruit basket and preserve the rest.  Homemade jam is wonderful to have around year around,  I love it spread on toast or drizzled over plain yogurt for breakfast.

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It also makes a great gift.  People love handmade farm to table gifts that are made with love.   Decorative tape is a really easy way to decorate the lids and adds a bit of personality to the jam.  Other easy alternatives are to tie ribbon or for a rustic look try twine or raffia.  Fun or pretty labels are an easy way to personalize your jam. Tags can be tied on. Sticker Labels can be purchased and handwritten or run through a printer.    www.Onlinelabels.com has labels in pretty much every size and shape you might need and they offer a downloadable template which is very easy to use.  The labels I use the most often are label #WL-375WG-100 which is a 3.3333″ round label which is the perfect size for labeling a wide mouth jar..  Label #OL5375WX is a 2″ round label that I use for labeling gift bags or small mouth jars (not a perfect fit but it still looks nice).  Canning and preserving is actually a hot new trend (again). If you haven’t started, what are you waiting for…

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TIPS:  If you have a load of plums but no time to use them, wash them and put them in a ziplock freezer bag and store in the freezer until you’re ready to use (Pit them first if you have time)  I recommend labeling the jars with the contents and the date, even if it’s just scribbled  on the lid with a sharpie. You can always cover it later with a label.  I always regret when I don’t.  I always think I will remember but…

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SANTA ROSA PLUM JAM

2 lbs fresh plums (about 5 cups coarsely chopped)
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup water

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EQUIPMENT
6 half pint canning jars with 2 piece lids
boiling water canning pot with rack
jar lifter (recommended)
jar funnel (recommended)
non-metal spatula(recommended)
labels (optional)

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  • Place the empty canning jars in the canning pot and fill it with water to cover jars by several inches.  Boil to sterilize and then remove the jars to a clean rack and let cool slightly (jars should remain hot so don’t take them out too soon).

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  • The lid bases (not the rings) should be heated for 10 minutes to sterilize and help achieve a vacuum seal.  This is easiest done in a saucepan kept below a boil.

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  • Remove pits from plums, cut away any bad parts and chop by hand,

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  • OR throw them all into a food processor for an even texture.  Keep the peels on as it gives the jam a lovely color and flavor.

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  • Combine plums, sugar and water in a large saucepan.  Bring slowly to a boil stirring until the sugar dissolves.

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  • Continue cooking while the mixture thickens, stirring frequently.
  • Test for proper gelling by dipping a spoon into the hot mixture and tipping it sideways.  If the jam falls off the spoon in a sheet it is done.  If it drips off the spoon, cook a little longer.
  • Remove from heat and skim foam if necessary
  • Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace.

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  • Remove any bubbles by running a non-metal spatula between the jar and the jam.

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  • Wipe the rim of the jars clean with a damp paper towel and place lid base on top then lid ring and tighten snugly (fingertip tip tight not as tight as you can make it).
  • Hook the rack on the edge of the pot, keeping the jars just out of the water.  Place filled jars one at a time on the rack, then  lower jars into hot water, cover and boil (process) 15 minutes

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  • Remove from water using a jar lifter and let cool.  You may hear a popping sound as the lids create a vacuum seal.

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  • To test the seal, after 12 to 24 hours after processing, press the center of the lid to see if it is concave.  If you can’t tell for sure, remove outer band and gently try to lift the lid with a finger.  If it resists, then you have a good vacuum seal.

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  • Jars may be stored at room temperature until opened, then must be stored in the refrigerator.

Homemade Plum Jam

  • Servings: 3 pints
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

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2 lbs fresh plums (about 5 cups coarsely chopped)
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup water

EQUIPMENT
6 half pint canning jars with 2 piece lids
boiling water canning pot with rack
jar lifter (recommended)
jar funnel (recommended)
labels (optional)

  • Place the empty canning jars in the canning pot and fill it with water to cover jars by several inches.  Boil to sterilize and then remove the jars to a clean rack and let cool slightly (jars should remain hot so don’t take them out too soon).
  • The lid bases (not the rings) should be heated for 10 minutes to sterilize and help achieve a vacuum seal.  This is easiest done in a saucepan kept below a boil.
  • Remove pits from plums, cut away any bad parts and chop by hand, OR throw them all into a food processor for an even texture.  Keep the peels on as it gives the jam a lovely color and flavor.
  • Combine plums, sugar and water in a large saucepan.  Bring slowly to a boil stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  • Continue cooking while the mixture thickens, stirring frequently.
  • Test for proper gelling by dipping a spoon into the hot mixture and tipping it sideways.  If the jam falls off the spoon in a sheet it is done.  If it drips off the spoon, cook a little longer.
  • Remove from heat and skim foam if necessary
  • Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace.
  • Remove any bubbles by running a non-metal spatula between the jar and the jam.
  • Wipe the rim of the jars clean with a damp paper towel and place lid base on top then lid ring and tighten snugly (fingertip tip tight not as tight as you can make it).
  • Using a jar lifter, lower jars into hot water, cover and boil (process) 15 minutes
  • Remove from water and let cool.  You may hear a popping sound as the lids create a vacuum seal.
  • To test the seal, after 12 to 24 hours after processing, press the center of the lid to see if it is concave.  If you can’t tell for sure, remove outer band and gently try to lift the lid with a finger.  If it resists, then you have a good vacuum seal.
  • Jars may be stored at room temperature until opened, then must be stored in the refrigerator.

Wheatless Wednesday – Santa Rosa Plum Crisp

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Looking for a simple 4th of July or summer dessert?  How about an easy Stone Fruit Crisp? Plums are in season right now as are other stone fruits like peaches, cherries and nectarines. Crisps are very forgiving to make as there is little that can go wrong, no crust to make or fruit to arrange. Just cut up your favorite fruit, sprinkle it with a yummy topping and bake. The beauty of this dessert is it’s simplicity.  This recipe is easily made vegan and gluten free and for a dessert, it’s pretty nutritious.  The oats and almond flour combined with the fruit and dates are loaded with vitamins and minerals ( and fiber, of course).   As an added bonus, your kitchen will smell divine!

I have a wonderfully prolific Santa Rosa plum tree in my garden in California.  Usually I make plum jam which I put on toast or in my yogurt for the rest of the year.  This spring in California has been so dry and warm that my plums were ripe and falling off my tree almost before I realized I was losing my crop.  So right before my summer move to Maine, I gathered everything I could reach and decided to take them with me since I didn’t have time to do anything with them in California.  I ‘smuggled’ the plums and some Meyer lemons, also from my garden, to Maine in my suitcase which I checked. I didn’t dare carry it on, since one of my friends once took home some of my lemons in her carry-on and security thought they were hand grenades. (Well they are rather large lemons!)   I decided it was not worth the risk of possibly having to dump them so packed them in with my shoes and extra clothes and hoped for the best.

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The lemons made the trip very well but a few of the plums got a bit bruised on their journey and are no longer quite as perfect for eating, so I decided to make a plum crisp.  Since I have yet to do a complete restocking of my pantry, I had to make do with what I had on hand, even tearing open individual sugar packets to toss with the plums (after which, of course, I found the tin of sugar hiding up on the top shelf).  Like I said, this is a very forgiving dessert…

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TIPS:  Most fruit crisp recipes call for wheat flour but I opted to go grain free and use almond flour, although almost any flour would work as a thickening agent and in the topping as well.  I added pecans and almonds to the topping for added crunch as well as dates for extra chewy sweetness but both are optional.  If you don’t use nuts, just add a bit more flour and oats so there is enough topping to cover the fruit.   I usually prefer desserts that are one dedicated fruit but crisps are also good with a mixture of cut up fruits if that is what you have on hand.  This is  great way to make an amazing dessert out of leftover or less than perfect pieces of fruit.  Instead of throwing them out, just cut out the bad spots.  They will still taste delicious!

Santa Rosa Plum Crisp

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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4 cups plums, pits removed and chopped

1 Tbsn coconut, oat or almond flour (white or wheat work too)

2 Tbsn sugar (honey, agave necter, etc.)-more if your fruit is under ripe or sour

1 tsp vanilla or almond extract

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Topping:

1/2 cup flour (made from any grain or legume)

1/2 cup oats (not instant or fast cooking)

1/2 cup pecans or almonds, finely chopped(optional)

1/4 cup dates, pitted and finely chopped (optional)

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter or coconut oil, melted

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  • Combine plums, flour, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon together in a medium bowl.  Pour into an ungreased baking dish or pie pan

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  • Mix together all topping ingredients with a fork until crumbly.

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  • Spread topping evenly over the plum mixture
  • Bake for 40 to 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Plums should be bubbling and the topping a golden brown.
  • Serve with vanilla ice cream (optional)

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