29 July 2015

spiced vanilla plum jam

After the little plum gleaning trip I did on Sunday with a friend of mine, I have copious amounts of small wild plums. I'm talking a good couple of pounds here! I had no definite plans or recipes that I wanted to make with these bright little fruits, but I knew whatever jam I was going to cook had to involve vanilla. I found this recipe online and while my version might have follow it quite closely, I still wanted to share this recipe. 

I have used agar agar only once before when making raspberry jam. Even the mention of the ingredient brings back such wonderfully strong memories of a farm I worked on in France. I remember standing over a hot stove, stirring a giant pot of raspberries with both hands, listening to Timber Timbre on the radio... That was the only other time I have used agar agar, but I gotta say this experimentation with the algae-based agent was a success. The trick is not to overcook the jam and trust in its gelling powers; all will be well when the jam cools, trust me. 

For this batch I think I added too much clove. It's a very strong spice so I also recommend adding it "to taste" instead of just trusting the recipe. I never trust recipes... That might be a bad thing. Not only does the orange zest contribute pectin to the jam but it adds a much needed alternate flavour, because basic plum can be a little boring. The vanilla bean and cinnamon tie everything together and you are left with something sweet, spicy, and rich where all the flavours mingle in the sugary goodness that is homemade jam. 


  • 2 lbs wild red plums
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon agar agar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • zest and juice of one orange

  1. Wash and dry the plums gently with a tea towel or paper towel so as not to bruise the fruit.
    Place the whole plums in a large cooking pot, the pits will be removed while cooking.
  2. Cook gently for approximately 25 minutes or until the plums are soft and pulpy. Using a slotted spoon (or potato masher), squish the softened plums so the pits are loosened and can be spooned out.
  3. Add the sugar, agar agar, and lemon juice, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Bring the jam quickly back to the boil and cook for approximately another 20 minutes or until the jam is thick and reaches setting point. Make sure you're always stirring; you don't want the fruit or sugar to burn.
  5. Pour into warm dry sterilised screw cap mason jars. Fill until around 1cm from the top. Finger-tighten and, using a tea towel as to not burn yourself, turn the jars upside down and let cool for at least 4 hours. 
  6. Label the jam jars and allow them to rest for 2 weeks. Then enjoy!

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