Fall Canning: Plum Ginger Jam
Phew, it’s been a busy few days over at Chez Fluvial. I was part of a team launching a really key piece of IT infrastructure which required an overnight activation sequence and now I feel like I have jet lag. The running joke last night was that I was actually in Taiwan. So, when you’re drunk with jet lag and sleep deprivation, why not make jam? Whoops.
I’ve been neglecting the fresh summer produce and only did small canning batches and now I’m regretting it. We ran out of pickles and I realized that I’d missed the season by just a few weeks and we’re out of luck until next year! Sadness but hey, lesson learned. So, when I saw plums and pears on sale for $0.99/pound, I knew I had to get some to turn into jam. And once you buy fruit, you kinda have to can it within a certain window otherwise your fruit rots and you’ve not only wasted food, you’ve missed your opportunity to can!
Over the past few months, I’ve been perfecting truly sugar free jams. It seems like there are a lot of recipes out there claiming to be sugar free but, in reality, they call for Splenda, Stevia, etc. in equal amounts to regular old cane sugar! Liers. That recipe is not sugar free. I’ve been developing my own jam recipes that are truly sugar free but also don’t rely on the laborious step of extracting pectin from fruit. I’ve had some pretty good successes: Strawberry Rhubarb (we ate it all and now I can’t make more until next summer. Tears), Peach Cinnamon (we’ve got PLENTY of that left because I went crazy and made about 12 half pint jars), and now Plum Ginger. Recipe for Plum Ginger is below:
(If you look in the back, you’ll see my stock of Peach Cinnamon)
You can safely say that 1 plum = 1 cup of fruit.
11 cups plums (finely diced w/ pits removed. Skin can stay on)
25 tsp lemon juice
2.5 cups water
1/4 cup candied ginger (cut into teeny tiny pieces)
10 tbsp low-sugar/no-sugar pectin (I like the Ball brand)
1/2 cup sugar (for macerating the plums)
1. Since the plums weren’t quite ripe, I decided to try macerating them to draw out the juices. To macerate any fruit, simply cut it up, pour a little sugar on top, mix, and let it sit. I let mine sit for about 3 hours and they were plenty juicy by that point.
(NOTE: Normally, I don’t use ANY sugar in my jams but felt I had to for this one to compensate for the not-quite-ripe fruit. If you have ripe fruit, feel free to skip this step.
2. Throw fruit, lemon juice, candied ginger, and water into a non-reactive pot. Bring to full boil and once that starts, stir constantly. Slowly add pectin and return to full boil.
3. Cooking time varies and I’ve learned when jam is done cooking by using trial/error. You can tell if a jam is ready to be processed by putting a plate in the freezer and once cold, placing a small bit of jam on the plate. If it’s viscous, it’s ready to be put into jars and processed.
4. Fill your (sterilized) jars and process for 10 minutes in a water bath.
5. (and this is the hardest part) Resist the urge to poke at the lids to check for seal until 24 hours after processing. Seriously, just ignore the jam for 24 hours.
Due to jet lag, I added more pectin than I should have so my jam came out a bit firmer than I’d like. It reminds me of the jam you get in the blue bucket with the lid. I was also concerned with sweetness but I tasted it this morning and the sweetness had definitely died down. And what a treat to get a little bite of candied ginger!
All in all, this was a 75% successful trial. In the future, I would not macerate the fruit and I would add less pectin. But still…very tasty!