Yakityak's Rum Plum Butter (waterbath canning)
This is a fairly tart plum butter, which is the way I like it. However if that's not your style, you may wish to up the sugar by a cup. Dedicated sweet tooths might even want a cup and a half more sugar. You can also opt to use less of the lemon zest to reduce tartness. The spices are identifiable without being prominent. This recipe perfectly fills six 12 oz. jars with very little left over. Six 12 oz. jars is identical in volume to nine 8 oz. jars, for your reference.
- 4 lbs. firm but ripe plums, pitted but with skins on
- 4.25 cups sugar, add more to taste
- 1 medium to small lemon - all the juice and half the zest, zest minced very fine
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- fresh grated nutmeg to taste
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 7 tblsp powdered pectin
- 1/2 cup Bacardi rum
NB: Make sure that you have set up to do a waterbath canning. This means have your jars (inspected to make sure there are no nicks or cracks) clean and start them boiling in the canning pot so as to begin the sterilizing process before you begin with the plum butter. You will need the waterbath to be at a rolling boil when you are processing, and that's a large amount of water to heat up. Get it going on the stove first thing. Lids should be heated in a separate shallow pan because even with a magnetic lid retriever, you can't reach the bottom of the waterbath pot once the water is hot. The jars need to be ready to be filled (dry but still hot), which means they need to have boiled in that water bath a good 10 minutes before the plum butter is ready to be poured into jars. I place my sterilized jars on top of a clean towel or rag to insulate them from the counter so they don't crack. Some equipment is simply essential - the canning pot with the rack to keep the jars off the bottom and the jar tongs being amongst the most important.
- Wash the plums very well and pit them. Puree them in a food processor with the skins.
- Prepare the lemon by first washing it and then peeling off half the very outer surface for the zest (only the colored part - try to keep the white to a minimum), and mincing it very fine. If you want the butter to be less tart, use less zest. Save the rest of the lemon for juice.
- Place the plum slurry in a 6 to 8 quart stock pot with the sugar. Stir thoroughly and bring up to a low boil.
- Once at a boil add the lemon zest and all the spices, and juice the lemon into the pot over a strainer or collander to keep the seeds out. Stir constantly and keep at a low boil for 15 more minutes. If you are using light fleshed plums you will see that the color of the mixture changes to semi-translucent and darkens, becomng more uniform.
- Add the pectin and turn the heat up to a rolling boil. Stir constantly and keep it at this temperature for 5 more minutes. At the 5 minute timer, add the rum - but be aware that this will cause the mix to boil vigorously so don't get spattered. Continue stirring until the rum is thoroughly mixed in. Turn off the heat.
- Ladle the mix into your sterilized jars. You will want a quarter inch headspace - it can be tricky to estimate that by eye so I do recommend having a canning headspace measurement stick.
- Be very conscientious about wiping the rims of the jars clean. Any plum butter on the rim could prevent a tight seal and it will ultimately corrode the jar bands. The latter isn't a health hazard the way the former is, but it is annoying nonetheless.
- Set the sterilized lids (always use new!) onto the jars and tighten down with the bands until it is fingertip tight. Don't over-tighten - you need air to be able to escape while the jars are being processed in the waterbath.
- Place into the waterbath with a minimum of an inch of water above the lids. I live at sea level and process the jars at a full boil for 10 minutes. If you live at 1000 feet or more above sea level you MUST adjust your processing time. From 1,000 - 3,000 feet process for 15 minutes. For 3,000 - 6,000 feet process for 20 minutes. For 6,000 - 8,000 feet process for 25 minutes. Above 8,000 feet (wow!) process for 30 minutes.
- Remove the jars from the waterbath using tongs and set them on a cooling rack. (Don't put them on the counter directly - they can crack.) If you want you can take a paper towel and lightly wick off any remaining water, but unless where you live is extremely humid most water will evaporate right off that hot lid.
- Listen and/or look to see that the lids "pop" into a full seal as the air cools underneath them. If any lids do not seal properly you can either try again by re-processing them in the waterbath (same amount of time as before), or just refrigerate the recalcitrant jar and use it immediately. Label the jars with the date and contents once they are cool enough to handle.
Kept in a cool, dark location, these jars should be good for up to a year in storage.
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