Spiced Plum Jelly
This plum jelly makes quick and easy use out of plums without having to pit them. The final product is a beautiful purple, sweet, spiced plum jelly that tastes like what cozy feels like. It also makes an excellent Christmas gift!
Visions of plum trees from long, long ago
I remember my grandpa having a plum tree when I was growing up. My grandpa (Poppy) was the first gardening mentor in my life. He kept a veggie garden out back where I remember digging my hands into the dirt and pulling worms out, exploring the natural world and learning about where food came from. Poppy also had an apple tree and a plum tree. For whatever reason I remember the plum tree best, and when Poppy died, I wrote a story about him and his garden and his plum tree affectionately titled “The Smell of Dirt.” I always vowed that when I had my own house I would grow a plum tree in honour of him.
Fast forward to today: We finally have a home of our own, but we can’t plant fruit trees here because we have two septic tanks taking up space in the front yard. Oh well. One day we will have our plum tree, I swear. Luckily I can still get my hands on free plums from around the Valley where we live. Lots of fruit trees with fruit that people that don’t want the fruit around here! If you like, you can read more about how I get my hands on free organic food (that I don’t grow myself).
Process plums right away for best results
Now, plums need to be processed pretty much right away. They go mushy really quickly. A few years agowe lost pounds of them to fruit flies before we had the chance to process them. If you need to hold onto them for any length of time, make sure they go in the fridge as soon as possible. When we used to pick plums at our neighbour’s house, they had a variety of clingstone plums that were delicious but a pain in the you-know-what to pit and process, so I needed a recipe that didn’t require me to pit them all, and could allow me to process them quickly before the fruit flies got to them!
The easiest, yummiest way I could think of was to make plum jelly. I’m a fan of using the whole fruit when making preserves, so I’m usually a jam advocate. But jelly (which uses just the juice from the fruit) is a great option if you’re working with a fruit that you don’t want to pit. It made processing the remaining plums super quick and easy.
All I did was throw washed, whole plums into a large, stainless steel pot, add water, cook them down and mash them up into a pulpy liquid. Then I strained the liquid through several layers of cheesecloth to get rich, pure plum juice. Throw the plum juice back into a clean, stainless steel pot and add a generous helping of sugar and some spices. Bring to a boil, add liquid pectin and pour into jars! In the end we got about 36 4oz jars of plum jelly. We gave 6 to our neighbours as a thank you and have the rest stored away in the pantry for winter.
Well, we may be on our second jar already, but that’s the beauty of preserving at home: You typically get big enough batches to last the year through and maybe even longer, and all for next to no money if you grow your own. This beautiful, glassy, purple-coloured plum jelly is spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. This gives it a cozy, Christmas-y flavour, which also makes it a perfect Christmas gift! So part of our Christmas “shopping” is already done.
Another awesome benefit to home preserving:) And for me, every time I get a taste of plum jelly, I think of that big ol’ plum tree in my poppy’s backyard. I’m reminded of him, and the smell of dirt that I’ve grown to love so much, and I smile.
- 4 cups plum juice (the amount of plums you'll need will depend on the type of plums you are using. We used black plums, and we got about 1 cup of juice per pound of plums. Blue plums are slightly larger and meatier so you will probably need slightly less to to make each cup of juice).
- 6 ½ cups of sugar
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 pouch liquid pectin
To Make the Juice
- Place whole, washed plums into a large stainless steel pot. Add ½ cup of water for every pound of plums.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently and mashing the plums up as much as possible to extract the juice (I use a potato masher).
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer on medium heat, stirring and mashing plums occasionally. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Fold a large piece of cheesecloth 3 times (so there are 3 layers of cheesecloth to strain liquid through) and place over a colander. Place colander in a large glass, plastic or stainless steel pot or bowl for the liquid to strain into.
- Transfer mixture to the cheesecloth-lined colander and allow liquid to strain through into the pot or bowl. Squeeze mixture in cheesecloth occasionally to help extract the liquid. Allow mixture to strain for about 2 hours, then removed colander, cheesecloth and solids and discard (solids leftover from plums are great for the compost!)
For the Jelly
- Prepare water bath canner, jars and lids: Inspect jars to ensure there are no nicks or cracks in the glass, especially around the jar rim as this can prevent a proper seal. Wash jars and bands in hot, soapy water, rinse and then sterilize by simmering in water over medium-high heat, either in a canner or large pot with a rack in the bottom on. Leave jars in simmering hot water until ready to fill. Sterilize new lids in a bowl of hot water.
- Measure out 4 cups of the plum juice per batch (do not do a double batch when working with liquid pectin as it can affect the set).
- In a large stainless steel pot, combine plum juice, sugar and spices (spices mix best when you use a whisk to mix them in).
- Stirring constantly, bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Add entire pouch of liquid pectin and boil hard for 1 minute while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off foam from the top.
- Pour jelly mixture into hot, sterilized jars leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe rims and place lids and bands on jars, tightening bands to fingertip-tight (tight enough that resistance is met but not so tight that air can't escape when canning).
- Place jars in canner making sure they're completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid and wait 5 minutes before removing jars. Allow to cool completely and then store in a cool, dark place.
Wishing you homemade, homegrown, homestead happiness 🙂
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