Rich, fruity thick Italian plum jam is ideal for using as a filling for cakes or just for spreading on bread. Make a batch of this old fashioned preserve and it will easily keep for up to a year.
I have a plum tree in my Suffolk garden. As the back of the garden is open to the fields it is rather exposed to the wind so depending on the spring some years I only just get enough plums to fill a single fruit bowl and other years I get a large crop.
It was on one of the heavy cropping years that I first started to experiment with plum jam recipes. As a result I now have two favourite recipes for this fruity jam. Roasted plum jam with its almost caramelised chewy sweet pieces of peel and this smooth Italian plum Jam.
The recipe is adapted from a recipe in The Gentle Art of Preserving: Inspirational Recipes from Around the World by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi. If you love preserving then I highly recommend this well researched beautiful book if you can get hold of a copy, at the time of writing this it is out of stock, and only available on Amazon at a rather high price!
The secret is in the long cooking
A lot of the jams I make are in smallish quantities and cooked for the minimum amount of time This gives a preserve that has a soft set and fresh flavour retaining most of the character of the fresh fruit.
This jam is different and all the more delicious for it!
It is cooked at a low temperature for 2 hours. Yes, you did read that correctly. A long slow cooking produces a jam with a dark, rich, deep plummy flavour that while not resembling the fresh fruit it is made from, is still nonetheless unmistakably plum.
After this length of cooking there is no need to test for a set. That is a given.
It has a couple of great advantages, its a really good keep and will keep for at least a year (thats if you can resist eating it all before then). It is also thick and firm making it ideal for use as a cake filling.
How to prepare the plums
Some recipes for plum jam recommend that you stone the plums before cooking while other suggest removing the stones with a slotted spoon after cooking.
I recommend that you go with the first option for this jam. Firstly the jam is very thick when cooked so it is not so easy for the stones to float to the top for skimming off. Secondly, the jam is pureed before potting, so you don't really want chunks of missed stone ending up in the jam after blitzing.
Cut the plums in half starting at the stem and following the natural crease in the fruit if it has one. Cut all the way around back to the stem then twist apart. Then remove and discard the stone from the fruit and put the stoned plums in the pot.
If the stone is hard to remove from the plum slice the remaining fruit away.
You can make this preserve with fresh or frozen plums. This is ideal if you have a glut of plums and no time to make the jam at the time they are ripe, simply freeze until you have the time to cook the jam.
Pureeing the jam
After cooking the jam, the Caldesi's original recipe suggests puréeing the jam is optional. I'm going to suggest that it is not as doing so you just get a lovely smooth fruity preserve which is ideal for spreading on cakes.
Try it on a traditional Victoria sandwich with fresh or vanilla buttercream. It would also be delicious in jam tarts or spread below the almond sponge in a Bakewell tart.
It is also what makes this jam different and special from the standard plum jam.
Because the jam will still be very hot it is essential you take care when pureeing. Purée in small amounts. You can see from the image in the steps that my blender is only filled to about a quarter to avoid any risk of the heat pushing of the lid and splattering jam about. (I aimed to purée about 1 jar worth at a time)
While this is an extra step having the jam in a jug then makes it easy to pour into sterilised jam jars.
Step by step Italian plum jam
Italian Plum Jam
- preserving pan or large saucepan
- jam jars
- 1750 g plums
- 1 kg granulated sugar
- Wash and halve 1750g (3lb 14oz) plums and remove and discard the stones.
- Place the plums in a preserving pan or large saucepan with 1kg (2lb 4oz) granulated sugar. Heat gently stirring until the juices run and the sugar has dissolved.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours, until the jam is thick and dark, stirring occasionally to prevent it from burning on the base of the pan.
- Remove from the heat and allow to stand for about 10 minutes. Purée in small batches before pouring into sterilised jars Seal, allow to cool and label.
- Wash the jars in warm soapy water and rinse well. Do not dry.
- Place the wet jars on a tray, heat the oven to 140℃ (120℃ fan)/275°F /gas 1 and put the jars in the oven to dry completely.
- Sterilise the lids (and rubber rings if using Kilner style jars) in a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes.