Jams and Jellies are a great way to preserve the flavor of seasonal fruits, long after they make their exit out of the markets. And contrary to what people might think, its fairly easy, and very much fun to make your own fruit preserves and jellies. Without going all fancy about adding loads of preservatives, you can still fill up a couple jars of your favorite fruit jam and let it last a bit longer than the season. And if you yearn to get that store-bought-jam-like-consistency, have no fear, for in walks Pectin, the secret ingredient behind successful Fruit Preserve recipes, as illustrated by Dhivya in her post about Canning Fruit Preserves.
Pectin is actually a soluble fiber and is known to be created naturally in certain fruits like apples, apricots,cherries, berries etc. But when you are trying to use more fibrous fruits like cherries, plums, peaches or oranges, it would be a good idea to add in a little bit of Pectin, just to elongate their shelf life, and also achieve the desired texture and consistency. Today, I walk you through the process of making Honey Plum Jam.
Where does the Honey come from – you may ask? Well, let me tell you that adding Honey gives a more velvety texture to the jam, and is also a much better alternative than adding sugar. You can get more ambitious and use some mildly scented or flavored honey, like Wildflower Honey used in this recipe. I also felt that a pinch of cardamom would not only accentuate the flavor, but also bring out the sweetness of the plums. I have adapted the recipe from Alton Brown’s original recipe for making Honey Plums, to suit my taste.
Plum Preserves with Wildflower Honey & Cardamom
5 cups of plums, chopped and pitted
2 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp orange juice
1 packet powdered fruit pectin
1 cup wildflower honey
1/2 tsp cardamom powder(optional)
1/2 cup water
Cover the bottom of a saute pan with honey. Place over low heat to warm the honey. Then add the chopped plums, and let them cook for 8-10 minutes, tossing them over to evenly coat them with the honey.
Bring the mixture to a boil over low heat, stirring frequently. Add the lemon juice, orange juice and the cardamom powder and mix well. Now go ahead and add the water, and let it boil.
Keep removing the white foam that forms at the top of the jam while cooking. When the mixture appears soupy and slightly thick, increase the heat to bring the mixture to a full, rolling boil.
Add pectin and return to a boil while stirring. Continue to stir and boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat. Let rest for 1 minute, then skim off any remaining foam from the jam.
Once it becomes syrupy, the jelly is ready. As it cools down, it will transform into the sticky but thick jam texture that you are used to eating. Some people like it chunky, while others prefer it more even. If you fall in the second category, pass the fruit preserves through a sieve or colander, pressing hard to extract as much pulp as possible. Your Jam is ready at this point, to eat right out of the pot!
Canning Fruit Preserves
To prepare the Jam containers, take thick glass canisters and clean them thoroughly with soapy water, along with the lids. Lightly dry them with kitchen towel and then drop them in a big pot of water. Bring them to a boil. Make sure your jars are submerged well. This is an important step that you must not skip!
Once done, lift them carefully and lightly dry them with paper towels. They should feel hot since it will make sure that the bottle does not break when you pour the jam inside. Slowly pour the prepared Honey Plum Jam into the Jar upto about 1/2-1/8 inch below the top. Close the lid tightly and invert the bottle to help the Jam set well for about 5 minutes.
Now slowly place it, straight-side up, inside the hot boiling water and leave it for another 5-8 minutes. This step is necessary to preserve the jam for a longer time. Remove them, let it cool and Refrigerate your fruit preserves to indulge in later.
Making Fruit Preserves, Jams or jellies is not as daunting a task as one might think. So the next time you feel tempted to make your own fruit jams, just print out this recipe, turn on the heat and get going! The aroma and taste of fresh homemade fruit jam will be totally worth all the effort you put in, and you can be sure you are feeding your kids something that’s fresh and healthy!