Confession… I am an over-canner. I love, love, LOVE to can. So when my friend, who owns a farm market, said he had couple of plums for me, I thought, “oh goody, I’ll make some plum jam.” Unbeknownst to me, a couple of plums turned out to be twenty-four quarts of plums. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I happily took ALL the plums and went on my merry way.
Now, I’ve canned in big batches before, so I figured “no big deal, I got this.”
I was overconfident, almost arrogant. “Twenty-four quarts of plums… pshaw. I’ll bang this out right now and be done in time for supper,” I thought.
Three hours in, I said to myself, “What have you got yourself into? By no means do you GOT THIS!” You see, I didn’t take into consideration just HOW LONG it takes to de-pit approximately 51 lbs. of plums and run them through the food mill. I’ll tell you – four hours and seven minutes. And I still had to boil down the pulp, get it to the gel stage and can everything. I had to fight off the overwhelming urge fling everything out the window and walk away. This was the big leagues and there was no time to panic.
Somewhere during hour five, I decided it would be a good idea to cook a few large batches of jam, instead of the recommended small batches. I was in a canning-induced delirium and looking for a way to end the jam nightmare. So, despite ALL the recipe warnings that small batches set better than large batches, I doubled (and at one point tripled) the batches.
Hour seven found me spewing curse words at the bubbling pots of jam on the stove. “Warnings are made to be heeded, you friggin’ idiot,” I screamed in my head.
2-1/2 hours after my curse-filled jam tirade, I pulled my last jar from the canner. All totaled – it only took me 9-1/2 hours to finish my canning marathon. The result: a sore back, purple stained fingers and 42 half-pints of jam. Oh yeah, and a BIG lesson learned – small batches of jam really DO set faster!!
NOTE: I processed all the de-pitted plums through my food mill that attaches to my Kitchen Aid mixer. A manual food mill will also work.
Sugar Plum Jam
- 4 -5 quarts of sweet plums (resulting in 8 cups of processed pulp)
- 3-1/2 cups white sugar
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1-1/2 Tbsp powdered pectin
- Squeeze the plums in your hand and separate the pit from the flesh.
- Process flesh through a food mill; measure volume of pulp (you need approx 8 cups).
- Put the pulp into a non-reactive pot and boil over medium-high heat for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes so the bottom does not scorch; skim off any foam with a spoon.
- Add the sugar and lemon juice and boil over medium-high heat for approximately for approximately 20 minutes.
- Add the pectin (sprinkle pectin over liquid – otherwise it may clump if dropped in all at once).
- Boil for another 5-10 minutes or until the liquid starts to jell and passes the spoon test (click here for a great cheat sheet on setting tests from PortlandPreserve.com)
- Ladle into jars, clean rims, add lids and rings. Process in a hot water bath canner (click here for detailed canning instructions for 10 minutes.
Jam can take one to two weeks to set. Here’s some great tips to make sure your jam sets properly from TheKitchn.com.
Always remember with canned foods (or any food for that matter), if it looks funny, smells funky or tastes strange – THROW. IT. AWAY.