Monday, 15 October 2012

Plum & Bourbon Jam

I know it has been a while, and I wish I could tell you about all the exciting things I've done, but the truth is I was spreading myself a bit thin so I decided to focus on the 'important things in life' - work, sleep and practice. So it's pretty much been a couple of cereal-three-times-a-day weeks. Actually, that's not quite true - I went to a wedding near Paris a week ago where I had some of the best food I've ever had. We stayed at this amazing castle and it was simply amazing. I might not understand why you need not just one moat, but two of them...but hey...

Anyhow, I made this jam when I was still excited about fall (right now I'm just cold...) and to me it pretty much tastes like one of those sunny-but-still-foggy mornings that scream for warm jumpers and perhaps a hot toddy after a long walk through the woods. I got the idea from this jam but decided that booze is always a good idea, so in went the bourbon. I think any kind of whisky would work quite well here.
I used Zwetschgen rather than normal plums because I prefer them. But rather than writing a paragraph or two about the differences, this time I remembered to take a picture in case you still have no idea what I'm talking about.

A note on sugar. I use sugar that has pectin added so you use twice as much (weight-wise) fruit than sugar. I prefer the jams you get that way even though they are, technically, not jam anymore. I also like the 3:1 type because you get a super fruity spread but the one time I tried to make one myself it wouldn't set, so now I just try to convince people who are good at making that kind of jam to spread the love and give me a jar or two :)
Anyhow, what I am trying to say is - if you are using normal sugar follow the instructions on quantities somewhere like Food in Jars because both the cooking time and the amount of sugar you have to add change.

Plum & Bourbon Jam
1 kg Plums, stones taken out and cut into small pieces.
500g 2:1 Jam Sugar/ Gelling Sugar (Gelierzucker)
5 Star Anise Blossoms
50ml Lime Juice
80ml Bourbon

Mix the plums, sugar and star anise in a large, heavy bottomed pot and let it sit for an hour or two so you end up with a sirupy mixture that smells faintly of star anise.
Next you remove the star anise from the mixture and bring it to a boil over a medium heat. Don't worry, this will take a while. Once the the sugary mixture is boiling, set your timer to 4 minutes and keep stirring. After three minutes, add the lime juice and 50 ml of the bourbon, stir it in and taste. I feel like 80 ml was a good amount of bourbon but you might like things less smoky. If you feel like it could do with more than the 50 ml you just added, keep adding until you are happy with how the sweetness of the sugar and the plums balances with the tartness of the lime and the smoky flavour from the bourbon.
Take off the heat and fill into sterilised jars. I come from a family where we re-use old jam glasses and then seal them by letting them cool down upside-down (which creates a vacuum). I have seen a lot of blogs talk about how the jam won't last as long as it would if you added the extra canning step. I think you should do whatever you feel comfortable with but I have rarely seen a mouldy jar of jam (and the one I actually remember also looked like someone had been hoarding it since the 1950s...) so I think if you're planning to eat the jam within the next year or two it should be fine without the extra canning in a water-bath.

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