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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Plum and Pineapple Jam

Before I started really learning about canning and writing about my food experiences, I made plum and pineapple jam every year to give at Christmas time. My mom has a tree and we grew up eating this jam. We followed the recipe on the Sure Jell package and didn't bother with a boiling water bath. No one ever suffered from our short cut, but I'm glad that I now know how to make all my products safe. With my Ball Blue Book and litmus strips, I shall be able to give boiling-water-bath preserves with confidence!
The color and flavor of this jam will be strongly impacted by the type of plums you use. Some years I have used blue plums and some years I've used these little golden plums from my mom's tree. I don't think I've ever had to buy plums. Because these golden plums came in at the same time I was trying to throw an anniversary party and my finger was still in a splint, they got thrown into the freezer. I weighed them prior to freezing and they were about 25 lbs. in eight one-gallon Ziploc bags. Yesterday I brought four bags out of the freezer and committed to using them today. If I had processed the plums straight off the tree, I would have had a much brighter color, similar to apricots. The freezing process turned them a little brown. To mitigate the brown color, I used a package of fresh cranberries to add a red color. I'm pleased to say that it turned out with the honey color you see slathered on the French bread above. If you have beautiful plums, omit the cranberries.

Weather you are starting with fresh or frozen fruit, the first step is to cook it. My mom's plums are small, soft and not very pulpy. I cook them whole and run them through a food mill. For larger plums, I pit and chop them before cooking. The recipe I'll give you requires six and a half cups of fruit. You can use 100% plums, but I really like the plum and pineapple combination. This jam is one of my favorite sauce bases. I start with one 20 oz. can of Dole crushed pineapple in juice and bring it up to six and a half cups with the plum pulp. I searched the interwebs and found some discussion that suggests that Dole does not use PBA in their pineapple cans. However, when I emailed them to make sure, I received a computer generated response that was so vague I couldn't really tell if they use it or not. For now, I'm going for it. I knew when I learned about PBA that pineapple would be the most difficult canned food for me to give up. If you want to chop a fresh pineapple, that will work here too.

Once the fruit is mixed, the pineapple provides most of the texture. When the jam is done cooking, it is important to skim the foam and then stir for a couple of minutes to distribute the fruit. This prevents the chunks of fruit from floating.
Today's project started with 12 lbs. of plums and one bag of cranberries cooked down in two different pots with one cup of water each. The resulting pulp was enough to make five batches of jam with one can of pineapple used in each.
Plum and Pineapple Jam
1 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple in 100% pineapple juice
prepared plum pulp to bring the fruit up to 6 1/2 cups
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 1.75 oz package of Sure Jell for no or low sugar recipes (in the pink box)
Prepare a boiling water bath. Wash 5 pint jars,lids and rings. Sterilize jars. Place lids and rings in a sauce pan with water and bring to a simmer. Keep jars hot until ready for use.
Measure the fruit and place in a large sauce pan. Measure the sugar. Mix the pectin with 1/4 cup of the sugar. Whisk into the fruit mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once the fruit and pectin mixture is boiling, add the remaining sugar and continue to stir constantly. Bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil for exactly one minute. Remove from heat. Skim the foam. Stir the fruit gently for a couple of minutes to distribute the fruit. Ladle into clean, hot jars. Wipe the rims with a clean, moist towel. Place lids and rings on jars and gently close. Do not tighten. Carefully lift the jars into the boiling water bath. Boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat and once boiling has stopped, gently lift out the jars and place them on a towel. Resist the urge to tilt the excess water off the jars. I like to place a towel in a bake pan and place the hot jars on the pan for easy transport. Do not disturb the jars and allow them to sit over night before labeling.
Makes 5 pints.
Goodnight my yummy little jars of goodness. I'll be seeing you for labels tomorrow!

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