Make Ahead

Spiced Plum and Port Jam

August  4, 2010
3 Ratings
  • Serves way too many jars of jam
Author Notes

I am a fan of using the no sugar required pectin to make my jams - this allows for a shorter cook time and a fresher fruit flavor in your jam, and also allows you to use much less sugar (if you want, if you like your jam quite sweet then by all means add more!). For this jam I used a combination of red and black plums - you want to pick ones that are still fairly firm, so they hold some texture when you cook them. Two notes 1) if A&M keep selecting jam friendly themes then I am going to need to rent a storage space, so maybe next week could be squid week or something? and 2) do they really have to put a little annoying sticker on EVERY SINGLE PLUM? Jeeze - aargersi —aargersi

Test Kitchen Notes

Who would ever think that plum jam could be elegant? Yet that’s exactly how I’d describe this perfection in a jar. Aargersi’s subtle, exquisite spice combination takes the lovely duo of port and plums to new heights. Savoring this jam, you can’t actually taste the port, nor can you recognize any individual spice used in it. You just taste a rich, brilliant blend of flavors. This is without question one of the best jams, of any kind, that I have ever made. If you make only one batch of jam this year, make this one. It’s simply that good. - AntoniaJames —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 8 cups pitted chopped plums (about 1/2 inch chop so you have a nice chunky jam)
  • 1 cup ruby port
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
  • nutmeg (I ground mine in fresh - maybe 1/4 to a half tsp)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1.75 ounces package NO SUGAR NEEDED pectin
  1. If you are canning, sterilize and prepare your jars. I got 3 8 oz, 5 4 oz plus extra for the fridge
  2. Mix the pectin and white sugar together and set aside. Put a tablespoon in the freezer.
  3. Put everything else in a pot and bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes, until the plums soften. At this point I use a potato masher to mash the jam a bit, but I leave some chunks too. Do this according to how you like your jam.
  4. Stir in the sugar and pectin and bring your jam back to a boil for a minute or so, stirring all the while. Taste for sugar and add more if you want it sweeter. Now take a bit of the liquidy part and drizzle it onto the back of the frozen spoon. Run your finger through it - it should separate and be, well, jammy.
  5. If you are canning, process the jam accordingly (into sterile jars, new tops on, rings on loosely, boil for 10-15 minutes, then take them out and smile while they pop pop pop), if not then put it in some sort of container and refrigerate. You will have plenty for friends and neighbors.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • em-i-lis
  • AntoniaJames
  • gingerroot
  • Sagegreen
  • aargersi

Recipe by: aargersi

Country living, garden to table cooking, recent beek, rescue all of the dogs, #adoptdontshop

25 Reviews

em-i-lis September 26, 2011
aagersi, just a quick note about a fab way in which i used this jam last night. in a food processor, i pureed 1/2 onion, 2 T slivered fresh ginger, 2 T brown sugar and some coriander. i took 1/4 of that and put it in a ziploc w/ 2 chicken breasts. mashed and marinated for a while. heated a grill, caked the chicken wtih the rest of the onion mixture, grilled and then served with your spiced plum jam atop it all. DELISH!! many thanks!
aargersi September 26, 2011
Oh my stars that sounds awesome! I will try it too!!!
em-i-lis September 6, 2011
AJ, I did exactly as you suggested + a tiny bit of apple juice, reboiled, tasted (SO good) and reprocessed. Thank you. I'll let you know how it turns out but I think the outlook is good.
aargersi September 20, 2011
Hey I just now saw this exchange - did it work? I just made a batch too and it is a teeny bit stiffer than last year's, but still plenty "jammy" - anyhow I am glad you are trying it!!! I need to make loads before Christmas ...
em-i-lis September 20, 2011
hi there, the jam was MUCH better after i took AJs suggestion. i still heat and add boiling water when i serve it but the flavor is wonderful. i'll start light with pectin next time. lovely, lovely recipe!!
aargersi September 20, 2011
Hurrah that is great news! I will remember for next time mine is too thick - blueberry tends to pull that trick on me for some reason ...

em-i-lis September 6, 2011
Many thanks, AJ! To foodpickle I go.
em-i-lis September 6, 2011
Oh my gosh, AntoniaJames- this gives me some hope of not dumping all this beautiful food. Do you mean that I might be able to open the sealed jars, dump everything back into a pot, thin and reseal? What would you suggest adding to this particular recipe? And yes, the spoon test came out perfectly so I was quite surprised by this. Thank you so much!
AntoniaJames September 6, 2011
em-i-lis, yes, it's worth a try! An old trick of jammers everywhere is to test the set/flavor correction by doing whatever you think will fix the problem to a single jar. So easy! (You can do it in an ordinary saucepan that's deep enough to cover one jar . . . just set the jar on a folded dishcloth in the bottom of the pan.) What I would do is add a tablespoon or two of boiling water to the contents of one jar. Heat it to boiling, fill a sterilized jar, then process. Wait for a full 24 hours before opening. Actually, I'd wait a week, as often the set really doesn't make itself fully known until several days later.Then, open it and see what you think. If it works, add the same amount of water per jar and re-can. I recommend you take this question over to foodpickle, to see what other experienced jam makers recommend! I've never thinned with water, so I don't know what ratio would typically be best in this case. ;o)
em-i-lis September 6, 2011
This looks and sounds so beautiful, but mine did not turn out. :( I used fresh Italian plums and another black-skinned, light-fleshed sweeter one, both from the farmers market. Everything just smelled to heaven but when I opened a jar this morning to taste, it was a pasty log that was so stiff, it was almost like a candle. I used exactly the amount of pectin called for: used Pomona's Universal. Does anyone have any guesses what happened? AJ mentioned something about different plums having different pectin levels. Is that it?
AntoniaJames September 6, 2011
I cannot imagine any other explanation. I made two batches of this last year and both of them, as it happened, were actually looser than usual. Last summer, the stone fruit here was crazy. I had a batch of peach jam that was also loose, and a batch of pluot jam that was quite stiff, so I opened the jars and dumped all of their contents into my jamming kettle to combine both batches just until they started to boil, stirring all the while. Then I re-processed, to create a jam with the most amazing texture and flavor. It was everyone's favorite! I've had a lot of challenges with plums over the years, including with deceptive "cold spoon" tests -- the set seems perfect on the spoon, but a week later, after opening a jar, the jam was much too stiff -- and have found that it may even depend on the tree, and not the orchard or variety, as to the pectin level of the plum. There was an interesting foodpickle thread about this a few weeks ago. I believe that the person who asked the question simply thinned the stiff jam with a bit of hot water. I don't know if that would work when re-canning .. . . ;o)
AntoniaJames January 21, 2011
I gave jars of this as holiday gifts. Not at all surprisingly, everyone raved about it. I'm hoarding the remaining few jars . . . . ;o)
aargersi January 21, 2011
Oh I am so glad! I have one jar left, also hoarding it and bemoaning that we won't see plums again any time soon!
dottieinthekitchen September 23, 2010
Have you made this with prune plums? And if I don't want to use pectic how much additional sugar would you recommend?
Can't wait to try this!
aargersi October 1, 2010
Hi Dottieinthekitchen - I just saw this! If you don't use pectin I think you actually just need to increase the cook time so that it cooks down and thickens more ... I would start off easy on the sugar and add more if needed, do make sure to bring any added sugar back to a good boil for at least a minute. Good luck I hope you like it!!!
AntoniaJames October 1, 2010
You may (or then again, may not) know this, but some plum varieties are very high in pectin and others are much lower. I've had some interesting surprises, both using pectin and not, with jams coming out very stiff, or very loose, but not finding out until a week or so after I've vacuumed sealed the jars. If I were making this without pectin, I'd probably (i) add some grated green apple and (ii) check for pectin content using the rubbing alcohol test. If you need more info on the latter, please let me know. ;o)
AntoniaJames August 12, 2010
Hey, aargersi, does this recipe make about 5 1/2 eight-ounce jars (i.e., what you've shown in your picture)? I need to know how many jars/lids to sterilize. I cannot wait to try this! Also, what kind of plums did you use? Do you think it makes any difference? Thank you!!
aargersi August 12, 2010
I am so happy you are testing this! Yes all of the jars in the photo are what I canned - 5 4oz and 3 8 oxz - plus I always put a tub straight in the fridge that I am going to eat right away (matter o fact I JUST finished the plum this morning!). I used half big black (tart) plums and half sort of medium sized red ones that were sweeter. The amouint of sugar will definitly depend on the plums you can get your hands on ...

Hey I lost my email address book with computer change so if you email me I can grab your addy back ...
gingerroot August 4, 2010
Yum...plum and port and chinese five spice (I just used some in a chicken soup I'm making)...your jam recipes are a very convincing argument to start canning! I imagine you and AJ have to die for pantries filled with all kinds of canned deliciousness. : )
AntoniaJames August 4, 2010
You've been reading my mind! I woke up this morning thinking about putting port in a plum jam or spread. I use port in a savory plum concoction that I often make (recipe possibly will be posted, depending on my ability to (a) actually make the recipe, to measure amounts and (b) juggle priorities. . ) I've never used the two together in a spiced spread like this. Thank you so much for posting this recipe. Although I have already made nearly two dozen jars of plum jam (not to mention the two+ dozen jars of other stone fruit jams, including some heavenly mixes), I really want to try this . . . and plan to do so!! ;o)
aargersi August 4, 2010
I will keep an eye out for your recipe! I have a lot of peach things in the pantry now too ... it's crazy!
AntoniaJames August 4, 2010
Peaches and plums go really well together in jam, by the way . . . . peaches are generally sweet by nature, and most of our plums, even when ripe, are rather tart, so the combination, especially when you add just a bit of spice, is out of this world. I know you didn't want to hear that . . .I want to try every jam, sauce and fruit butter recipe posted! My family is going to lock me in my room and ground me until November if I bring into the house another big bag, flat or "lug" (my preferred quantity) of anything that can be canned or made into jam. I spent 20 minutes early this morning re-organizing my jam storage space, wondering how I've completely filled every inch of available space and it's only the first week of August!
aargersi August 4, 2010
:-) I am in time out after bringing home a 1/2 bushel of tomatoes and a sh!t - load of ugly but tasty peaches from the farmer's market a couple weeks ago
Sagegreen August 4, 2010
I was wondering what you were up to this week! These look lovely. Saturday I am taking Mary Reilly's canning class with a few other Food52ers in Newburyport, MA. So I am going to make my preserves after that.
aargersi August 4, 2010
How FUN! Please take loads of pictures and share all that you learn!!! And beware once you start canning it is hard to stop - ask everyone I ever met (they all have jam now :-)