The Spice of Life

I am an absolute nut about mulled wine, and perhaps with good reason. I remember France during the holidays, going to a bazaar full of baked goods and steaming vats of mulled wine, warming the hands and the belly against the chilly air. I spent Christmas in France in Stasburg, the place for Christmas, eating pain d'├ępices and downing bucketfuls of spicy wine on the snowy streets, but mulled wine is sold all over France during the winter season, and is also very plentiful around my family's home, especially during holiday parties. The wine fills the air with the unmistakable aroma of cloves and cinnamon, a sent forever linked in my mind with smiles and the good cheer of the season.

Now, I am sorry to reminisce about all of this Christmas business but I really am getting to the point; and that is the flavor of this mulled wine brings back memories of childhood and good times. Well, I want that in my jam.

And thus I created Spiced Plum Jam.

The plum season is drawing to a close here in Corrientes, and pears and apples take their little places for the fall. The plums who do still manage to fight their way into the market are a little more than ripe, (OK so I like my plums practically still green and crunchy but they really are quite ripe) which is just right for the jam pot.

I have been making jam since I was in my younger teens, helping my mother with our annual batch of 3 fruit marmalade (the grapefruit and lemon help make up for the sweet oranges since Seville aren't easy to come by in the Pacific NW). This jam in comparison is dead simple to make, no slicing up zest with surgical precision, this is a lovely, messy affair, and you can eat some plums as you go. If you have never made jam before this is a fabulous recipe to start with, and well worth the effort, because store bought jam can never ever stand up to the homemade variety. So lets get started,

Boozy Spiced Plum Jam

Remove the stones of about 6 pounds of plums, and put a small clean plate in the freezer.

Cut the plums into chunks, the size really is not all that important.

Add 3 to 4 pounds of sugar depending on your jam tastes (some recipes add up to the same amount of sugar as fruit but overly sweet jam is not my thing so..)

Throw in about 1 pint of water as well.

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 all spice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger

Leave the fruit to soak, the sugar will help draw out the plum juice so just leave it alone for a while, I do this overnight but 20 minutes will probably do in a pinch.

Put the fruit on a low simmer for about 45 minutes until the fruit is very very soft. Turn up the heat and add in your pectin if going the pectin route, start with a box or two. (Because pectin seems not to exist in Argentina, I have to get it from my fruit so I use the stones smashed up a bit, in a teabag, but the pectin from a box is the way I would recommend). Once the jam has started to thicken, take your plate out of the freezer for a little test add a small drop of your jam on the plate and wait a minute or two, push the jam with your finger if the jam is now jam-like and smooshes and has a bit of a skin rather than just being liquidy, you are ready if it is still liquid add more pectin (depending on the fruit this may take up to 4 or 5 boxes in some cases) and keep boiling for about 5 minutes.

Skim any white foam that may have come to the surface with a slotted spoon.

Add about 2 tablespoons brandy (or the liquer of your choice) to the bottom of each sterilized pot (I run the dishwasher while I am cooking so the pots are still super hot when I add the jam, this is probably not the most sterile way but I haven't died yet and none of my jam has ever molded), and then add the jam leaving about 2 fingers room on the top. You can tell if the lid has sealed after about an hour if when you push on the lid it doesnt spring back.

(Spiced Plum Jam on homemade wheat bread)

If you can't wait to test it out, put some of the hot jam on vanilla ice cream and eat.


melissa_cookingdiva said...

Katy, great post! Last time I had mulled wine was in Bariloche about a year ago or so---Fantastic :)

Sarah said...

OH ! Yum Katy, that sounds SO good! I wish you were here and we could eat some together! Mum.

Katy said...

Melissa, I didn´t know they had mulled wine in argentina! My Fiance seemed to think they didnt though the kinds of foods here are very distinct from region to region. He, at least, had never heard of it.

Mum, you are funny, I wish I could be there too!

sabjimata said...

Beautiful looking plum jam! So red and vibrant.

Linthorpe Abundance said...

I've made 2 batches of this jam and it's divine. Everyone who's tasted it loves it - "Christmas in a jar" is the response. Try it - you'll be smitten!