Toward the end of the summer, our CSA had a couple of quarts of beautiful Plums that I just couldn’t resist. It turned out that they weren’t ripe yet, so they went into an agate tray and onto the wall that skirts our kitchen– where I put fruit to ripen in plain sight, so that I don’t forget about them. It was silly of me to think that I’d get them done during the first week of school…so I lost a few.
In the midst of the craziness, I also found myself weighing out my pitted and sliced plums and remembering that I’d used the last of our granulated sugar. I did, however have some Raw Sugar – slightly lighter than brown sugar, but with very large crystals. Sugar is sugar, right? Well, I knew that it would change the hue slightly, but it didn’t concern me because of the rich shade brought by the plums. I couldn’t find a good enough reason not to go ahead, but I did reach out to Marisa to make sure that I wasn’t missing something. She gave her OK on the swap and here it is – our Food in Jars Inspired Vanilla Plum Jam!
Prepare a boiling water bath and 3 jars & lids. I used the 8oz squat jars, so I used my 4th Burner pot for the water bath. Even though I’ll only be processing 2 jars, I’ll want the 3rd one to start out clean for the refrigerator. The updated instructions for the Ball lids do not require simmering. I keep them out and dip them briefly in the water bath prior to lidding the jars.
Wash, pit and chop plums into a bowl with the sugar and the vanilla bean and allow to set for about half an hour.
After the fruit, sugar and vanilla mixture is ready, scrape it all into a kettle or large skillet.
Add lemon juice and cook over med-high heat while stirring frequently.
Bring it to a boil and continue to cook until it begins to thicken – about 10–12 minutes depending on the moisture content. With a small batch like this, it’s easy to see and hear when it’s reaching that finished state. I tell my kids it’s the parting of the Red Sea trick. When I run my spatula through the jam and it doesn’t quickly fill in, it’s ready.
Turn off the flame or remove from the heat. Get that vanilla bean out. Carefully funnel into the prepared jars allowing ½ inch of headspace. After cleaning the rims, apply the lids and rings and process in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
At the end of the water bath, carefully remove the jars, set them on a towel-covered counter to cool, untouched for 24 hours. Remove the bands, check that they have sealed, label and store in a cool dark place.