One of the great things about being a food blogger is that it encourages me to try new recipes and techniques in the kitchen. I've always been adventurous in the kitchen, but now I seem to be in constant search of the next great recipe, tip or trick to blog about. My most recent culinary adventure is canning. Thanks to my mom (who is an expert at canning and preserving) and the Washington State Fruit Commission (who just accepted me as part of their CANbassador Program), I have, not only, learned this very cool skill, but I now have a pantry stuffed full of homemade jams and preserves.
The goal of the CANbassador program is to spread the word about canning and preserving, and to encourage people to explore Sweet Preservation, their comprehensive online resource for all things related to canning and preserving. They provide everything from recipes, to tips for buying fruit, to free downloadable jar labels. If you're new to canning (as I am), this is the best way to educate yourself about it!
So, last Friday, a huge box of just perfect plums, peaches and nectarines arrived at my door, courtesy of the Washington State Fruit Commission. The fruit was so outrageously juicy and delicious that I figured I'd better get right to work preserving it; if not, my family surely would have polished it off on me! Off to mom's house I went, the backseat of my car loaded up with fruit. We spent an entire afternoon canning and preserving. One of the results of that afternoon was this Brandied Plum Jam. It's fantastic on its own or served with some granola over Greek yogurt, but my very favorite way to serve it is with goat cheese and crackers. The deep purple preserves are as gorgeous as they are delicious, and if you keep a jar or two on hand, you've always got a super easy appetizer (or hostess gift) at your fingertips. Here's the recipe:
1 1/2 pounds of plums, pitted and diced
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. brandy
3 3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. liquid fruit pectin (I used Certo brand)
1 Tbsp. butter
In a medium pot, over medium heat, combine the plums, water and brandy. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the fruit pectin and the butter. Return to a boil and stir constantly for 1-2 minutes, until the jam thickens up a bit. Pour the jam into hot, sterilized jars, leaving about 1/4 inch at the top. Wipe the outside of the jars and cover with the lids.
Meanwhile, fill a large stockpot, about halfway, with water. Place the jars into the stockpot, leaving a bit of space between the jars. The water should come to about one inch above the top of the jars. You can add more water, if necessary, to reach that level. Bring the water to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove the jars from the stockpot and place onto a cloth covered surface. Allow the jars to cool fully (this takes several hours). Store jars in a cool, dry place.
*Note - opened jars should be kept in the fridge*
Yields approx. 6 (8 ounce) jars of jam.