Autumn Plum Jam with Pernod & Chili

This is a lovely jam made with the Italian prune plums that you find in the markets in September and October. they have a rich, buttery texture and flavor, and taste wonderful with the anise-flavored Pernod. If you hate anise (it's a thing), you can substitute a liqueur of your choice, such as Vermouth or Brandy.

This recipe is a two-day process. If you want to do it in one day, let the plums macerate for a few hours at room temperature and they should render enough juice for the recipe; if they are very ripe and juicy, and you’re impatient, you can start jamming right away – just note, the longer this macerates, the better it will taste, and the quicker it will cook and reach a gel stage.

Special equipment: mason jars (Ball, Kerr, etc.), canning pot, tongs

INGREDIENTS

6 pounds small, Italian plums, quartered and pitted (about 6 cups)
4 cups sugar (2 pounds)
2 tablespoons Pernod
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried chili flake (not too hot, like Urfa or Korean)

DIRECTIONS

PREP FRUIT: Rinse the plums in cold water and quarter; leave the skin on and discard the pit. Measure fruit into a glass bowl or plastic food-safe Tupperware and add lemon juice, Pernod, chili and all of the sugar. Stir well. Want more pizazz? Add another teaspoon of spice, such as star anise.

MACERATE: Macerate at room temperature for an hour or more (but no more than 18 hours), so that the sugar and lemon juice can help release the juice of the plums. Stir a few times to help dissolve the sugar. If not using immediately, refrigerate for up to 72 hours.

SANITIZE JARS & LIDS: Place your mason jars in a pot, covered with water; bring to a boil and turn off; leave jars in the hot water, covered, until ready to fill. Place lids in a heat-safe bowl and pour boiling water over them; let them sit in hot water while you prepare the jam.

Place a few metal spoons in the freezer for testing the consistency and gel of your jam later on. You can also place them in a cup of ice water if you prefer or on the windowsill in winter.

COOK: Bring the plum mixture to a boil and continue cooking on high heat for 5 minutes. Skim if there is foam and continue cooking on high heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid scorching.  Gradually lower heat as jam reduces volume and starts to stick on the bottom. Stir every 60 seconds as it reduces.

The syrup will reach the gel stage at 221 ° F (105 ° C) on a candy thermometer, about 20 more minutes. If you don’t have a thermometer, test the consistency by placing a teaspoon of the hot jam onto one of the frozen spoons you prepped. Let it rest for a few minutes, then test the gel by tilting the spoon vertically. What is the consistency? If the jam runs loosely like syrup or has pools of liquid surrounding the fruit chunks, then it’s not done yet. If it glides slowly along in a gloopy glob, then the jam is ready. If syrupy, bring it to a boil again for 5 to 10 minutes. Once it is done, turn off the heat.

PROCESS: Place lids and rings on each jar, tighten, place jar in hot water canning pot using tongs, make sure jars are covered by at least 2-inches of water. Bring to a boil, covered and let boil in hot water for 6 minutes (they should be clinking together at a full boil).  Turn off heat, remove and let rest till cool. Jam lasts at least 12 months unopened. Store in a cool, dark place to retain color. Once opened, refrigerate.