Thursday, July 12, 2012

Vanilla Santa Rosa Plum Jam

We're going to ignore my prolonged absence and just jump into the fun part -- jam! I've always wanted to learn to can, but have been fearful of poisoning my friends and family. That's a handful of lawsuits this attorney just does not need.

Fortunately, this past weekend I had a chance to get over these fears with the help of jammin' gurus Gina and Lisa. We visited the home of one Miss Lawyer who Loves Lunch, along with Jean and Liren. We made jam -- and lots of it.

Fruit was obviously a plenty. So was the sugar. We made nectarine and blueberry jam; strawberry lemon jam; fig balsamic jam; and a vanilla Santa Rosa plum jam. I learned from Gina that there is a general jam ratio from which you can start any recipe. Just use, or halve, the following amounts, all of which are measured by weight:
6 pounds of fruit
2 pounds of sugar
4 ounces of acid
flavoring, such as a spice or herb
Certain fruits may require added pectin, so research the pectin content of your fruit first. Also, when adjusting for sugar and acid, you need to taste the cooked liquid instead of the cooked fruit. The acid should balance out the sugar, so you taste the fruit and just a hint of lemon at the end. But if you prefer a sweeter jam, go ahead and add more sugar. 

The liquid, or juice, is really the key to jam. Or it would seem. In addition to informing you of the jam's taste, it will also help you determine the jam's final consistency. If the liquid doesn't set-up thick enough for you when tested, heat the jam for a few more minutes. If you like your jam highly spreadable, it's done when the juice gels, but is still on the runnier side.

There are plenty of water bath canning instructions on the web, so I won't get into that. But one great tip that I learned is that you can always return your jars to the water. Make sure your jars have sealed before you pull the big pot o' water off the stove. If they haven't, see what impeded the seal, fix it, and return them to the water. But only try this on the same day -- you may kill someone if your jars have been sitting unsealed for a day or two. Not a good thing to do.

Now, onto the recipe! I actually requested the Santa Rosa plums, which are my favorite variety ever. Blame my mother, as they are her favorite, too. My dad even went so far as to plant a tree in the middle of our yard a few years ago. This may or may not have had something to do with her summertime walks to the plum tree down the block. The neighbor didn't pick them, so my mom did.

So, what possessed such brazen theft? Well, Santa Rosa plums are sweet, yet tart. They have a bite, making them downright delicious. And unsurprisingly, they translate into some damn good jam.


Vanilla Santa Rosa Plum Jam

Makes ~10 8 oz jars

6 lbs pitted Santa Rosa plums, chopped
2 lbs, 8 oz sugar
4 oz lemon juice
seeds of 1 vanilla bean

Adjust sugar and lemon juice as necessary.

Notes: You can peel the plums if you want, but be sure to weigh them after they have been prepped for the pot. You can also substitute the vanilla bean or leave it out. I think some fresh ginger, or cinnamon, would be good. Some orange zest would also be a delicious add-in.


Lawyer Loves Lunch said...

Yay, you're back to blogging! So good to see you last weekend. I can't wait to figure out what we'll make next!

Trevor Sis Boom said...

Yeah. Yes, lets skip over your absence and get to the fun part, jam. I'm new to it too and only get down to it once or twice a year. The thing is, even the bad stuff I make is better than anything you can buy. Also, when you give it as gifts people seem to like it, or lie about liking it. Either way I'm good. My mother has a thing for Santa Rosa plums too.

Lemons and Anchovies said...

Yay, so good to see you back and what a great recipe to mark your retun to blogging. :) I just published my recap today, too, so I'll link back to your recipe here.

Great to see you last week!

Medeja said...

Plum jam is a great thing! It goes well both with meat and baking something sweet!

Lisa {Authentic Suburban Gourmet } said...

Great post and glad that you are back to blogging. Love your writing style. Great to see you last weekend and great choice on the Santa Rosa Plums - just loved that jam. Have a great weekend!!! (Will be adding you to my post for links to our fun day!)

Gina said...

I love your shot of the open jars, I was going to hide the fact I have 6 jars open in my fridge at the moment, lol. The ginger will be really good, I made some ginger and spice peach jam the other night and it came out really good. I think I may have to go back and get some more of the plums before they are gone. I had such a great time, I'm thinking we need to dream up another food challenge soon.

Liren said...

SO glad to see you back in business! Yay! It was great to see you, and I just love the color of that plum jam - just gorgeous!!!

Anonymous said...

Everyone seems to talk about pitting the plum. I think I have a Santa Rosa plum tree with lots of fruit designed for eating over the sink. The fruit is not a free-stone. You cannot easily remove the pit. It is like a cling peach with the fruit totally stuck to the pit. When you pit it, you end up with plum juice. Then what?

Baking Barrister said...

@anonymous -- i didn't have any trouble pitting the plums. I usually cut them in half, and then twist. for stubborn ones, I just cut off chunks around the pit, since it doesn't need to be pretty. If you get juice, you get juice -- it's going to happen when you cook it anyway.

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