Lately I have been back in the mode of "use what we have". This pandemic has reminded us about why we were moving towards self-sufficiency, and being in the thick of it really gave us a renewed motivation to put the work in sooner than later. That being said, using every piece of fruit/vegetable/animal on the property has been a key factor in my actions lately.
Most recently, the berries started erupting and I started cooking! We don't use a ton of jelly in the house, but I love to give away jars as gifts throughout the year. Last year I made lots of apple and pear butter and some blueberry jam, but I didn't even think to use plums. That was a huge mistake! This year I started with plum jelly since they were ready first, and it is way better than I could have imagined. I added some ginger and cinnamon for something different and the spices made it even better. Finally we came to this recipe! Adding in blackberries was something to try on a whim and it is amazing!
We have an American plum tree which is very different from the plums I have seen in the store. They are much smaller and sweeter and they have a pit. That means this recipe is super time consuming, primarily in the prep work. Besides the fact that it takes a while to gather up a bowl of plums, I then have to cut into every single one to remove the pit and discard any areas that have been bitten into by bugs. It takes forever, but if you have the time it is so worth it!
Tips Before You Start
- I am TERRIBLE with recipes. I'm not sure if it makes me a good or a bad cook but I kind of just throw stuff together and hope for the best. With that being said, these measurements are really rough estimates. This is not a recipe where you need to be exact. If you have less berries, just cut the sugar so you don't lose the fruit flavor. Outside of that and overcooking, you really can't go wrong!
- I use a 10 qt nonstick saucepan to cook. I find that using stainless steel guarantees I burn the bottom no matter how much I stir.
- I have a propane stove. I learned the hard way that I cannot rush the recipe or I end up with burned jam and burned hands (if you have never made jam before, you won't know that by the end it is basically made up of thick exploding hot lava bubbles that know no mercy). For this reason I cook it for hours on low. If you can do it faster at a higher temp- go for it!
- Place a small plate in the freezer when you start cooking so it is ready to help you test the jelly by the time you're done.
- Have mason jars and canning utensils ready! The line between perfect and overdone is narrow. If you wait to get all of your canning gear together your jam will burn!
- Even if the mason jar lids look sealed, I use a hot water bath to ensure the seals hold over time. The last thing I want to do is gift moldy jam!
YIELD: 5 pints
8 cups chopped plums
3 cups blackberries
3 cups sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1. Puree plums and blackberries.
2. Stir pureed fruit, sugar, and spices in large cooking pan.
3. Cook on low heat, stirring frequently, until it cooks down to about half. For me this takes about three hours.
4. When you think the jelly is thick enough check with a cold plate. Put a small dab on the plate, and if it is thick enough it will not move if you move the plate around.
5. Place jam into mason jars, making sure not to get any around the top of the jar will the seal will touch.
6. Seal jars so no air will get in, but do not overly tighten (if you tighten too much the pressure could build up too much when you hot water bath and the jars could break). Leave overnight.
7. Once the jars have cooled to room temperature put in a hot water bath for 5 minutes (bring enough water to cover all the jars to a boil, add the jars in for 5 min while water is boiling, then remove the jars immediately. Overheating could cause too much pressure to build, and the jars could break).
Looking back on this recipe I can see how it would be really confusing to someone who has never made jam before! Please please comment with any insight you have to making this recipe more clear. And of course if you try it out, let us know if you like it!