Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Italian Prune Plum Jam with a Hint of Cinnamon

I adore Italian Prune Plums. I guess some people use them for making prunes, but I decided to make some jam. Because you can never go wrong with plum jam.

My first encounter with Italian Prune Plums was when I lived in Chicago and my neighbor has a tree. Some years, there was no fruit at all. Some years, there were a few plums here and there. And some years, that tree was so full of fruit that the branches would bend until they were nearly touching the ground.

Those years, my neighbors would hand me a paper shopping bag, half full of fruit. And I'd be eating plums every day. I'd never had plums like that before. They were tasty and tart when they were just barely getting soft, and they got sweeter as they got softer.

They were greenish yellow inside with a very dark purple outside. The interior would go from green to a less green color that looked like it wanted to be a barely peachy yellow. When they're cooked, the inside turns bright red.

Back in Chicago, it never dawned on me to make jam, but now I like the idea of having a few jars of homemade jam on hand for slathering on English muffins. This particular jam is also good for swirling into yogurt or on top of ice cream.

I adapted this from a recipe on the Northwest Cherry Growers site. It was described as a plum butter, which is typically thicker than a jam - but it depends on how long you cook it to reduce it.

That's what's great about a recipe like this - you can cook it less for something that's a little looser, or cook it more to get a super-thick fruit butter. I let mine cook until it was more jam-like than butter-like. I also made it a little less sweet than the original,and fiddled with the spices a bit.

If you're going to can the jam for room temperature storage, I suggest using the original recipe - you really don't want to mess with sugar ratios when canning. But my version is great for refrigerator storage or for freezing.

Plum Jam with a Hint of Cinnamon
Adapted from a recipe on Northwest Cherry Growers site, courtesy of Sugarcrafter.net
Make two pint jars (or four half-pints)

2 pounds of plums, halved and pitted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups granulated sugar

Run the plums through your food processor or blender until the mixture is as smooth as you can get it. In a large sauce pan, combine plums, cinnamon, salt, lemon juice, and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.

Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and holds its shape on a spoon (or it reaches the consistency you like.) The time this takes depends on several factors, including how hard you're simmering, the shape of the pot, and how much moisture there was in your plums. If you cook at a spunkier boil, you'll need to watch more carefully and stir often to make sure the jam doesn't stick and burn. If you opt for a very slow simmer, it will take a lot more time but require much less attention.

Taste and adjust sugar, lemon, and cinnamon to suit your taste, and cook for another minute or two. If the jam seems chunky or bits of skin are visible and you'd prefer them to disappear completely, you can give this another run through your blender or food processor. Make sure to exercise proper caution for blending hot foods in your particular machine.

Transfer the jam to containers for refrigerator storage or freezing.

For the original recipe, including canning instructions, check out Northwest Cherry Growers' site.