I love this easy technique for thickening jam without adding pectin. It’s brilliant, Denise, and makes it easy to turn low pectin fruits into something thick and glorious. Take this plum jam. No really, make and take this plum jam everywhere. It’s a fresh jam blessed with vanilla and thyme. Stick these tiny jars in your bag and give them away regularly.
When I set out to make small batch jam, my friend Kate always comes to mind. In my humble opinion, she is the queen of French jam, especially when it comes to utilizing a country’s bounty. A few weeks back, she posted a gorgeous photo of plums from her home in Gascony, France. I instantly had plums dancing around my head, and knew what had to happen. This recipe takes a bit of time, but is well worth the care and love that goes into it.
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Plums are at their peak right now. Every trip I take to the farmers market, I end up coming home with a huge bag that barely lasts two days. Besides snacking on nature’s candy, I have been enjoying them chopped up in yogurt or oatmeal, and even muddled into a bourbon cocktail. I have especially loved making this small batch recipe for Summer Plum-Vanilla-Thyme Jam, packaging it in adorable jam jars and giving it all away to friends. It brings summer sunshine to the morning routine.
MORE: If you don’t have the time to jam, brighten your mornings with our Blue Chair Jam Collection.
I start with ripe plums. You can use any of your favorite varieties, as the method works with them all. After washing and pitting the plums, I cut them into rough pieces – no need for strict uniformity. Then, I sprinkle sugar on them, stir, and let the whole mess macerate until the sugar has dissolved.
Now, the fun part begins: cooking and watching this simple mixture become jam. After bringing to a boil, then simmering for a brief 10 minutes, the mixture is brought to room temperature. Then the process is repeated, which is a natural thickening process, so no pectin is required. I repeat this dance four times, and if you decide to try another round or two, the jam will become even thicker.
If you can keep the spoon out of the pot long enough to fill small jam jars, you will have a delightful end of summer gift to share with those you love. Guaranteed to produce smiles from ear to ear!
- 4 pounds black plums, pitted and cut into chunks
- 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 vanilla bean, split in half
- 8 4-ounce glass jars
- Combine the plums and sugar into a bowl and let sit for 2 hours.
- Pour the mixture into a large heavy bottomed pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir often so the bottom does not burn.
- Reduce the heat to a very low simmer, stirring often for 15 minutes.
- Add the thyme and vanilla bean and remove from the heat. Let cool.
- Bring mixture to a boil again, stirring often so the bottom does not burn. Reduce to a very low simmer and cook for 15 minutes, continuing to stir. Remove from heat and let cool. Repeat this process 3 more times. After the third time do not let cool.
- Sterilize 8 small jars and lids in a preheated 225°F oven for 20 minutes.
- Remove the thyme sprig and vanilla bean.
- Evenly divide the jam while it is still warm between the jars, leaving about 1/4-inch of headspace. Cover with lids and set aside to cool or process for canning.
- Wrap the jars with some twine and give as a food gift or enjoy at home.
Eat Boutique is an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista–shop girl, writer, author, and creative business coach. After hosting pop-up markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie is working to open her first permanent Eat Boutique–a food-retail concept space with a new way to the very best food–as well as coaching women in food to reach life and business goals. Her second cookbook, A New Way to Food: 100 Recipes to Encourage a Healthy Relationship with Food, Nourish Your Beautiful Body, and Celebrate Real Wellness for Life, will be published by Roost Books on February 5, 2019.