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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

plum jam

I am really starting to hate big pots of boiling stuff. Especially big pots of boiling jam that is viscous and therefore clings to the back of your fingers and burns them when you spill some of it. And makes lots of blisters that continually get brushed against or bumped and make your eyes well up. And still there are piles of fruit that you can't just ignore.

Amongst other things. There are other things I hate too, but that is the main one for today.

But, onward! Forward march!

Today, it was plum jam. Despite the burns and the exhaustion, despite the sweat and the tears, plum jam is just so sweet and delicious.  It's worth it all.

Plum Jam
(This recipe makes about 8 1-pint jars)

Rinse, chop, and remove pits from about 4 pounds of plums. This is another recipe that works great for those really really ripe soft plums. Just squish them in half, and mush/pull/scrape as much fruit as you can from the pit. You can keep some skins and throw away some. Whichever skins separate easily from the flesh went into my composting bin. Those that stuck a little more carefully stayed in the pot. The skins contain the most tartness, so consider that in how many you want keep. Keep on pitting and chopping and squeezing until you have two quarts of plum bits.

Combine the plums, 6 cups of sugar, 1 1/2 cups of water, and 1/4 cup lemon juice in a large stockpot. Depending on how juicy your plums are, you may not need all of the water. It just needs to be liquidy enough to dissolve the sugar.

Cook, stirring constantly, until it reaches the jellying point (about 220 degrees at sea level). Just be careful. 220 degrees does not feel good spilled on your hand.

Here is that fabulous explanation for knowing when your jam is done.

When it is done, you are ready to can it for future use!

If you need to read about how to can, I suggest this document.

If you already know about canning, here is a chart for how long to process it:

Table 1. Recommended process time for Plum Jam in a boiling water canner.
 Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of PackJar Size0 - 1,000 ft1,001 - 6,000 ftAbove 6,000 ft
or Pints
5 min1015

*This chart is from the National Center for Home Food Preservation. How official is that?