spiced PLUM orange Amaretto JAM

Juicy PLUMS almost didn’t make it into what turned out to be a delicious unique JAM.  
How could it not be unique?  
Amaretto -- Cinnamon -- Orange -- Vanilla.  
Need I say more?

Just imagine these flavours coming together as the tart and sweetness find their perfect balance.  

The plum itself was also like no other I had seen before.   
The incredible array of colors alone made me enthusiastic.

This beautiful fruit was found in my friend's backyard and its tree had become sadly neglected.  

She honestly admitted that plums were not her family’s go-to fruit and that unfortunately they let the tree go without further attention.  With her permission, I quickly twirled one off its branch.  As it found itself into a perfect bite, I looked at her as if she were crazy to give up such a glorious fruit.  Not too sweet and just the right amount of tartness.  Albeit, not the typical Italian, deep purple plum which my 'Nonno' nurtured in his back yard...these peach colored, rosy cheeked plums were going to certainly come in handy.  Surely, a few recipes would undoubtedly benefit from such fruit ;o)

Usually, shy about taking what's bearing on someone else's tree...my friend eased my hesitance by clearly telling me that if I were not to pick a whole bunch of them...they'd probably end up going to waste.  What an incredible shame that would have been...I just couldn't have that happen.  
The fruit itself tasted very much like most plums we all know, except, there was something very different about them.  Come to think of it...these plums symbolized the very unique person my friend turned out to be.  I could not only see a special continued friendship...but a few recipes in the horizon as well ;o)   As tempted as I was to just stand there and eat a few...I composed myself and remained polite for a few more moments. 

However, that particular afternoon, I could not dedicate my time to the picking of plums...
I really needed to head out since I was incredibly behind schedule.

The next morning, after hearing that someone actually desired these plums...
my friend’s Hubby enthusiastically started making me a bag of goodies.
Hmm...just enough for my first recipe of plum jam.

My friends also made sure I understood to come back soon before...
the plums would be taken advantage of by the birds and squirrels in the area.  
The race was on!

Now, all I really needed to figure out was the...
perfect combination to go with these specially gifted plums.

Pairings in general are not always easy to figure out.  
I did, however, have an itch to perk up and spice up this jam.
I wanted to make it special enough to be part of my recipe collection of preserves.

The following flavours, essence and cooking method is what I was counting on to honour my friend's plum offerings:
. Firstly, I decided on a lower-sugar* content...concentrating more on a few other flavours to enhance the plum.
. Orange came to mind as the perfect compliment to the plum's sweet juices.
. Amaretto liquor with its almond essence was to add an intriguing match to the plum's tartness.
. Cinnamon spice was going to add just the right amount of exotic touch I was planning for.
. Vanilla was to embrace all of the above with its unique aroma
. I used a longer cooking method for the plums in order to release their naturally occurring pectin.

* Low-sugar Jams:
Important point to keep in mind when lowering the SUGAR (preserving quality) in a fruit jam recipe:
Since most traditionally made jams contain lots of sugar which is mostly needed for its preservative aspect,  a low-sugar variety need a little more attention throughout its process.  It is also best to package the jam into smaller jars.  Once opened, the jam not only needs to be kept in the refrigerator...it also needs to be consumed within a much shorter time period versus traditional high-sugar content jams.

spiced PLUM orange Amaretto JAM 
"Long-Boil" cooking method

Yields 6 small jars (12 mini jars)

Click HERE for a PRINTER version of this recipe

(American / Metric measures)

. 6 cups [about 4lb / 2kg...(40-45)] ripe, plums * 
(stones extracted and chopped)

. 1/2 cup (120ml) orange juice
. 3 cups (330g) granulated sugar
. 1 medium cinnamon stick

. 1/2 cup (120ml) Amaretto liquor **
. 1 Tbsp. (15ml) pure Vanilla extract

* Plums are naturally high in pectin...so there's no need to add any commercially made pectin for this recipe.  Tip:   Although, it is important to use firm, ripe fruit...it is equally important that the over-ripe is not used when making jam.  This latter will inevitably spoil your labours.
** Non-alcoholic version:  Replace the liquid quantity with either apple / peach / pineapple juice or plain water.  If possible, also add 1 tbsp. (15ml) of almond extract.

PREPARATION before you begin making the fruit jam:
1. First, make sure the selected glass jars, lids and covers are in excellent condition.  
2. Set up your 'filling station' close to the pot and have both funnel and ladle ready.  Tongs and paper towels can be useful.  It is important that all utensils and tools (except for tongs) are non-metallic.
3. Set up a 'resting station' near the stove where the filled jars can rest for an undisturbed period of 24 hours.
4. Wash and sterilize the jars, lids and all tools and utensils that will be used in the process of successful jam making.  Make sure to take precautionary measures when handling hot jars and jam:

Here are 3 HEATING METHODS whereby sterilization can be properly achieved:
Note:  For any of the below mentioned, following methods, please remember to take extreme care when removing from the oven and have a stable place, preferably on a heat proof board or tea towel to rest them on.
...Stovetop (water submerge) method:
1. Place glass jars, lids and seals on an insertable rack to be submerged in a large pot.  Cover the jars with water.  Heat water to a boil and them decrease boil to a low simmer.  Keep jars hot until ready to use.
2. If an insertable rack is not available, use tongs to help you remove the jars etc...With some hand protection, remove the jars and pour the jam right away.   
...Oven method (for jars only):
As the jam is close to its last 20 minutes of cooking,  place the tray of empty jars with opening side facing upwards in the center of the oven and turn on the heat to 225F/110C /Gas1 and set for 15 minutes in order to sterilize.  It's important that the oven is NOT pre-heated...it will crack the glass jars.  In the meantime, in a small pot, the lids and seals should be put to a boil and then to a low simmer for about 10 minutes right before using to cover the jars.  Remember to keep the oven on right up to the moment of filling the jars.  With some hand protection, remove the jars and pour the jam right away.   
...Microwave method (for jars only):
. Place a few pre-washed jars into the microwave oven.  In the meantime, in a small pot, the lids and seals should be put to a boil and then to a low simmer for about 10 minutes right before using to cover the jars.  JUST, right before the jam is ready for jarring...set the Microwave power on high for 1 minute.  With some hand protection, remove the jars and pour the jam right away.   

Let's make some Jam.

1. Wash the plums. Cut to extract the stones. Afterwards, chop the unpeeled plums or use a food processor and pulsate the plums until they appear lightly chopped. 
2. In a medium-large pot, combine all the ingredients except for the Amaretto and the Vanilla.  
3. Heat on MED-HIGH while blending well for about 5-10 minutes or until a surface boil appears.  
4. Add the Amaretto and Vanilla and then lower the heat to MED-LOW for about another 40 minutes.  Stir occasionally to make sure the jam doesn't burn. 
5. If there is some accumulating foam, just skim some of it off.
6. Avoid overcooking the jam.  Check that it has reached the 'gel stage' by placing some jam onto a dish.  Once cooled, it will be thick and won't leak down the plate.  Jam is ready for immediate jarring.  Discard the cinnamon stick. 
7. With the funnel in place, quickly ladle the jam into the sterilized, hot jars. Remember to leave a little 'headspace' of about 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) at the top to allow for possible expansion. Use a non-metallic tool to remove any air bubbles from the jar. 
8. Cover all jars with the hot sterilized disc and seal lids finger tight. Do not force the tightness. 
9. Place the jars at your pre-planned 'resting station'. Let them cool naturally, undisturbed for about 24hrs. If the bands of the jars loosen, gently re-tighten them very lightly. 
. You'll know if the proper seal has taken place by noticing the downward curve placement of the surfaces. 
. All there's left to do is to label the jars. Store them in a cool, darker area of your pantry OR follow my TIP  mentioned in the 'NOTES' section by placing jars in the freezer. 
. It is usually best to consume the jam within the period of 9-12 months to enjoy its quality. 

. Sometimes, as well as we think we've done in the process of making preserves, some things could have gone wrong.  If unfortunately the jam has not fully succeeded during the jarring process, you will, after a while witness mould developing on the jam's surface.  If so, don't take chances, throw out the jam.  Since some of the mould penetrates deeply, the toxins spread quickly.

* My Tip:  Although unopened jam preparations should probably be kept in the pantry, I keep mine in the freezer until I'm ready to use it.  It thaws very quickly in the refrigerator.  This way, I eliminate the off-chance that something could have possibly gone wrong.  It's really a personal safety guard I decided to put in place a while ago, especially when having decided to decrease the sugar content substantially.  

Not only am I dedicating the success of this plum jam creation to my special friends...
I am also dedicating this specialty to my grandparents for introducing me to plum jam in the first place.

I do hope that you'll be fortunate enough to get a chance at making this concoction.
It truly turned out delectable.

Have a great week everyone.
Myself...I'm hoping to score some more plums ;o)

Flavourful wishes,

Comments or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at: foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com

Go HERE for more SWEET creations.

Please take note on how I bake and cook...
Here’s a 101 of sorts to make sure that there are no disappointments when trying my creations.  
Also...just so you know...feel free to increase the salt and sweet factor since I'm not high on either of them ;o)
. Use DRY cup measurements for...you guessed it...all DRY ingredients.
Anything DRY gets measured by spooning the overfilled ingredient (never shake the cup) and then level off with a flat edged tool.  Exception...Brown sugar should be packed in and leveled.
. Use LIQUID cup measurements for...all LIQUIDS that cannot be leveled like for example butter, yogurt...etc.  Measure the liquids at eye level to avoid overdoing what the recipe truly needs.
OVENS are unfortunately not created equal.  Mine is so old that it has reached many degrees off it's norm.  It's really worth investing a few dollars to test yours with an appropriate oven thermometer.  You'd be surprised how many ovens I've heard about not being where they should have been.  Before you lose any more ingredients and much time preparing a new recipe...run to the store...you'll thank me later. 

A few related recipes that may be of interest to you:
- AMARETTO baked French Toast for mi AMORE 
- cold Espresso Coffee AMARETTO Latté
- APPLE berry sauce