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plum delicious

Recipe: spiced plum jam

I’m rained out at the moment, trying to get work done and taking periodic peeks out the window for a break in the weather. The giant mountains that typically tower over town are completely obscured by thick layers of clouds, but they can move out as quickly as they move in. Stormy weather can be a blessing and a curse. Photographers love when snow and fall colors mingle – it adds new dimensions and moods. But to get that secret ingredient, you need to endure the rain and cold and zero visibility and deep mud and fallen trees. Tap tap tap tap. Tappity tappity tappity tap tap tap! That’s the rain on the roof of the motel. I traveled south for a couple of days to catch this very storm when it lifts.

we got snow in crested butte a few nights ago

then we got more snow


You can never hit all of the great places for fall colors at just the right time, but with today’s connectivity, you can get color reports from your network of photography pals as they scout across the western half of Colorado from late September to early October. Text messages, Facebook comments and posts, emails, forums, and face to face. There is a lot of flipping through mobile photos. Of course, when you meet in person, it’s practically a requirement that you grab a meal together.

jimmy and mike ready for pizza after camping in the pouring rain

stash pizza (pinhead pesto)

jimmy is very happy

On my drive south, I listened to a David Sedaris audio book and laughed my way up and down the back roads, pausing to gauge colors or take photos or to slowly make my way through cattle congregating on the road. The skies were a little moody, a little mixed, a little rainy. And even if the aspens were still green or completely stripped bare, the smell of the forests and soil after the rains was invigorating.

every so often the sun would poke through the clouds

i love the white trunks of aspens

spotlight on the aspens

stormy sunset

It’s been less than two weeks, but I’m feeling just a little burned out. Not so much burned out on the fall colors – I don’t think I would ever tire of autumn’s glory – but burned out on not cooking in my kitchen and not eating fresh, seasonal, and delicious food. And because sunrise and sunset are always dedicated to shooting, it really derails my trail running schedule. As the weather cools, I want to cook and bake! I did get a little of that action before the fall shoot, because the end of summer offers so much in the way of late season fruits.

italian plums

let’s jam: plums, lemon, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pectin

This all started last month when Erin told me Jay was picking plums from his sister’s newly acquired plum tree (she acquired the tree with the house). Jay is the one who accuses me and Erin of having a sickness when it comes to huckleberries. Pot. Kettle. Black. He was so excited that he was just going to wing making jam and canning it for the first time. Just in case Jay blew up their first batch, I opened my trusty copy of Food in Jars, found a plum jam recipe, and emailed it to Erin. She reported back that it was good, really good. So I had to make some myself.

pitting the plums


place the plums and sugar in a large pot

For a while, I was avoiding making jam because canning is such a time suck and I haven’t been able to carve out large chunks of time (or counter space). But I had an epiphany that solves my dilemma. Because we now have a chest freezer in the basement (full of huckleberries – yay!), I have the space to freeze my jams. Freezer jam is easy. Make the jam, put it in a jar, let it cool, freeze it. Just use it within a year. Right on.

zesting the lemon

adding the juice

final step: pour in the pectin

As with nearly every jam recipe, it came down to the choice between a last minute jam session and getting sick trying to eat several pounds of ripe fruit before leaving town. I managed to squeeze the jam in because it’s really very quick to make. There’s no maceration time, just chop the fruit and start jamming. The plums break down into this gorgeous jewel-colored mess and the spices put you in the mood for fall, and dare I say it, the holidays.

i left my plum jam chunky

ladling into jars

Jeremy, who doesn’t like plums (or drupes of any kind), liked the jam. Every day brings a surprise. It really is lovely. This coming from someone who doesn’t eat much jam… I just like messing with fruit and then giving it away to friends. You don’t have to use Italian plums, you can use any plum for this recipe. And if you don’t have the freezer space, go ahead and can the jams. I have a link in the recipe to another jam with canning instructions. So head out now and make some!

classic toast and jam

Spiced Plum Jam
[print recipe]
from Food in Jars

8 cups pitted and finely chopped plums (about 4 lbs. or 1.8 kg whole plums)
3 1/2 cups (700 g) sugar
1 lemon, zest and juice of
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 3-oz. (85 ml) packets liquid pectin (6 oz. or 170 ml total)

Stir the plums and sugar together in a large pot over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in the lemon zest, juice, and spices. Continue to boil the jam over high heat for 15-20 minutes until it thickens and the liquid turns syrupy. Add the pectin to the jam. Stir to combine and bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes. When it’s done, it should look thick and shiny. Makes 6-8 cups of jam. Store in the refrigerator, freezer, or can the jams. You can find canning instructions here:

more goodness from the use real butter archives

tomato jam fig and brandy jam huckleberry jam peach jam

10 nibbles at “plum delicious”

  1. meg says:


  2. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    I am dying to try this! Homemade jam is the best, but I’ve always wanted to make plum at home!

  3. ellen says:

    yummy yum YUM!
    thank you! now i want to leave work (cough!) and get home to make jam …before the snow flies!

  4. JaneM says:

    Gotta make this jam as I love plums in any form. Recently made a yummy Plum Cobbler with Marzipan-Biscuit Topping ( and I adore David Sedaris. His Holidays on Ice book made me giggle out loud. I have 3 of his books. Shame on me for not keeping up with his work.

  5. Cheryl says:

    I absolutely love freezer jam over canned – I think freezing enhances the fresher flavor,at least with strawberry. I have somel plum trees which several years ago produced an abundance, and one of my friends to whom I gave away lots gave us a jar she made from our plums; I’ve been wanting to make some ever since but the weather has not cooperated to produce plums. Maybe next year! This certainly inspires me to keep hoping and having faith.

  6. Pey-Lih says:

    Tap…tap…tap…would be nice to have some of that over here. I just covered pectin and making home made jam in my Food Science class. Maybe this is the time to make my own fruit preserve! We just got back from Bar Harbor, and now I have a fetish for wild blueberries. It made me think about your frozen huckleberries in your golden treasure chest. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  7. jill says:

    Drupe. Love that I learned a new word, again, from you.
    Photos are gorgeous. Especially love the snow!!!
    xo, j

  8. sajtosbrokkoli says:

    Next try to add some Erarl Grey tea as a spice. Jam become wise, mellow.

  9. Links: Grape Jelly, Peach Mustard, and Winners - Food in Jars says:

    […] My spiced plum jam illustrated with beautiful pictures. […]

  10. jenyu says:

    meg – thank you!

    Katrina – me too! It’s been on my list for a while, so I’m glad to have finally done it. It’s really good :)

    ellen – ha ha!

    Jane – that sounds fantastic! And yes – David Sedaris is terrific. Cringeworthy and hilarious.

    Cheryl – lucky you!! Plum trees (or any fruiting trees) sound like such a wonderful thing! I hope you get to make the jam soon.

    Pey-Lih – you’re welcome!

    jill – yes, I like that word too! :) Thanks! xo

    sajtosbrokkoli – nice!

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