In my freezer I typically squirrel away a full shelf of homemade jams and sauces made with my favorite fruits. They add the most anticipated and sweetest element to my daily breakfast of yogurt, oatmeal or more infrequently homemade biscuits or sourdough bread.
My seasonal fruit habit borders on eccentric. Just ask my young adult kids who lugged a heavy Yeti in and out of the car on our three-day road trip home this summer. It was packed with rhubarb compote and strawberry jam I made with just-picked farm fresh fruit during our visit to my mom in Massachusetts.
I find joy in the little things and truly look forward to deciding what fruit to eat each morning. Plum jam tends to get rationed because whenever I taste it I’m reminded that no matter how much I make, I never make enough!
Depending on where you live, there are dozens of varieties of plums grown throughout the US available from late spring through early fall. In the summer small local plum varieties can be found in Southern farmers markets. They’re typically fairly puckery. Most plums need cooler weather so I need to source most of my favorite plum varieties from Northern parts of the country.
Any kind of plums will make a memorable jam. The sugar plum bombs I would suggest seeking out specifically for jam making are the Italian prune plums. They appear all too briefly at the grocery store in September and disappear for another year in October.
The best way to make any kind of jam without pectin is the two-day method which is said to extract as much pectin from fruit as possible. Adding lemon peel and juice which are high in pectin helps. The first day all the ingredients are assembled and put in the refrigerator to macerate; or draw out the juices in the fruit. The next day the ingredients are cooked. This works every time. Once I forgot a batch and left it sitting in the refrigerator two days before I cooked it and it still turned out perfectly.
I have a separate recipe for every kind of fruit jam I make to accommodate for each fruit’s sweetness and pectin content as well as added complementary flavors such as citrus, ginger or spices. Once you’ve made this jam, play around and substitute your favorite flavors including cinnamon, nutmeg, lime, orange, vanilla or basil. With so many varieties of plums, make sure to taste the plum mixture and add more sugar by the tablespoon if needed. Plum varieties have a wide range of tartness, particularly wild or beach plums which are super tart.
This recipe may be simple to make, but I’ve already made and tweaked it dozens of times and it has never failed me. It tastes like nothing you’ve ever had out of a jar and something you’ve been nurturing for days….which you kind of have 😊
NOTE: This recipe is small batch and not designed for canning; which I just don’t need for my little emptying nest family. It can be easily doubled.
Two Day Ginger Plum Jam Recipe
2 lbs = 4 cups ripe but firm plums chopped into 12 even pieces
1 ½ cup sugar
3 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbs diced candied ginger
- 1st Day: Mix all ingredients in large glass bowl. Taste test the mixture and add more sugar or lemon a tablespoon at a time to balance out how tart or sweet your plums are. Let sit overnight in the refrigerator.
- 2nd Day: Bring all ingredients to a boil, reduce slightly to an energetic simmer and cook until syrupy, about 20 minutes.
- Jam is done when it reaches 220F. Another way to check jam consistency is by freezing a small plate before cooking the jam. When you think jam is done put a teaspoon of jam on the frozen plate. Let it sit for 30 seconds and run your finger through the jam. If the jam stays parted, it’s done, if it doesn’t it’s not. Let cooked jam cool.
- Jam conservatively keeps in the refrigerator for two weeks or frozen in small containers for up to 6 months.