Let me introduce you to processed sugar-free, super easy plum jam. That’s right, processed sugar-free. It’s clean, it’s naturally sweetened and without added pectin.
Plum jam is very precious to me. Somehow it translates to my childhood, to delicious cakes and sandwiches, to good memories and experiences. That’s why it was painful to stop eating plum jam when we stopped eating processed sugar. It was like I was giving not only sugar but few of my memories as well. But it had to be done. Processed sugar was not a good part of our life and it needed to go away. It was a process in itself, I tell you, I didn’t realise how much sugar I was actually eating and how I was affected by it.
Obviously, jam was out of a question as jam is made with sugar. Our cupboard did not see a jam jar since the diet change. Every time I saw plums I was a bit nostalgic, though. Punnets and punnets of rich coloured juicy plums… And all I could think about is jam. Totally weird. This stayed with me for months but I thought this would be a craving I won’t be able to satisfy. One day, I saw an article about fruit and pectin levels. Pectin is naturally occurring jellifying agent. Fruit like plums, pears and apples, for example, have high pectin content as opposed to strawberries and grapes which have small amounts of pectin. And it all clicked in my head. What is the actual process of making jam? You cook the fruit. Since fruit have a high amount of water when fruit is cooked you end up with a sort of fruit compote. To sweeten and to jellify the compote, sugar with pectin is added. This makes a thick mixture we call jam. What if you evaporate some of the juice and rely on natural pectin in plums to thicken the mixture instead of adding processed sugar with pectin? Plus add natural sugar in a form of dates to amp the sweetness? What you end up with is naturally sweetened jam. Plums are a bit sour to begin with but still have a lot of sugar. Slow cooking evaporates part of the juice, natural pectin in plums does its job and thickens the mixture, plus when cooked for a while the natural sugar in plums intensify significantly. It’s incredible actually. When you try the jam in compote stage it’s incredibly sour. My initial thought was – blimey, this needs a lot of sugar! Thankfully I stopped myself from popping the whole bag of dates into the pot. I just left it with the few dates I added at the beginning and waited patiently.
This jam takes a bit of time to make. About 2 hours of cooking to be exact. But it takes care if itself. It’s slowly cooking on the stove. All you need to do is stir it from time to time and of course lick the spoon to check on the progress 😉
Plums ready to be turned into jam
Jam after 1 hour of cooking
Jam after 2 hours of cooking
And the result was somewhat surprising. The jam was sweet, and incredibly intense in flavour. There was a slight tangy sharpness to it, a bit of sourness that is just pure plum goodness. I was so happy and incredibly proud of the results. The first jar of jam disappeared quite quickly. I might have been guilty of eating spoonfuls of jam on its own. It was like having an old friend back. Just better and improved. Plum jam friend, version 2.0.
When I’m making jam I like to make a lot so we can enjoy it for a while but you can make the jam from one punnet of plums if you want. Experiment with the amount of dates and prunes you want to add, cooking time, make it totally your own. Although a bit time-consuming plum jam is super easy and not absorbing. Based on my experience I would set up a timer for 1.5 or 2 hours so you know when to take it off heat. I have to admit that one time I totally forgot about the fact that I have a pot of jam in the making on the stove. Ups. Because the heat is so low the jam did not burn and turned out very delicious. But I do set up a timer since then just in case I get so consumed with another task I forget I’m cooking plum jam. What did I tell you, jam making is not absorbing at all 🙂
- Wash, destone and roughly chop the plums. Add them to a pan with water and roughly chopped dates and prunes.
- Cover the pan, bring to boil and cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes until plums will become a compote.
- Lower heat to low and partially uncover the pan. Slowly cook for aprox 1.5 - 2 hours until jam becomes condensed and thick.
- Transfer to a clean jar. Keep refrigerated for up to a month.