Santa Rosa Plum Preserves: Plum-Rosemary Jam and Spiced Chutney

One neighbor's discarded plums are another's treasure. 

Santa Rosa Plum Preserves: Plum-Rosemary Jam and Spiced Chutney
Preserves are a great way to preserve!

Preserves are a great way to preserve!

There are times that I especially appreciate how fortunate I am to live in California. Plum season is one of those times. During the months of June, July, and sometimes August, many neighborhoods in the Bay Area are literally dripping with plums. These plums are often there for anyone willing to put in the effort, as many plum tree owners can't seem to keep up with the production. While the small and tart wild plums that you can find in many parks and urban environments are lovely (especially for California wild plum umeboshi, recipe coming soon!), the Santa Rosa plums that are much-loved cultivated variety in the area are pretty ethereal. They are sweeter, but not cloyingly so, with beautiful flesh and an almost rose-like scent. When my neighbors told me that they had more of these plums than they could handle and told me to take as many as I could I knew I hit the plum jackpot. Low hanging fruit for sure! 

I gotta lotta neighbors with a lotta unused plums. 

I gotta lotta neighbors with a lotta unused plums. 

There are many ways to enjoy plums like use them in place of apricots in this ginger almond galette or simply eat them fresh and let the juices run down your chin, but if you're in need of putting up (isn't that a great phrase?) a lot of them for later use, preserves (hence the name) are a classic way to go. When I have a bunch of fruit, I like to make both jams and chutneys because it's nice to have a classic jam for topping toasts and yogurt, filling pastries, and making cocktails, but chutney is great to have around for savory applications.  Serve it with blistered green beans or roast chicken eh, voilà! All of a sudden that ho-hum dish is exciting. The jam uses store-bought pectin - I used to only make my own pectin from citrus pith, but (although fun) it can be quite time consuming and the Pomona pectin is a faster way to success. The quantities and spices in both the jam and the chutney are adaptable to availability and preferences! 

Plum-Rosemary Jam

Makes about twelve, 8-ounce jars. Recipe adapted from Serious Eats

Glorious Santa Rosa plums.

Glorious Santa Rosa plums.

  • 6 pounds plums, pitted and chopped
  • 2.25 pounds granulated sugar

  • 1.5 Tbs Pomona's Universal pectin or other low-sugar pectin

  • 2 Tbs calcium water (comes in pectin package)

  • 2.25 ounces lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

  • 3 sprigs rosemary

  1. Toss plums with sugar and pectin in large bowl. Cover, refrigerate overnight (optional - this may be helpful if you don't have time to make jam after picking fruit and want to save it until the next day).

  2. Put two spoons in the freezer.

  3. Heat in large pot on medium with calcium water, lemon juice, and rosemary sprigs, stirring frequently. Cook for 30 min - 1 hour, skimming off foam* and smashing to desired texture. An immersion blender can also be used to break down fruit, but rosemary sprigs should be removed before blending.

  4. Check for doneness by putting jam on spoon and putting back in freezer for 2 minutes. When you run your finger through the jam on the spoon, it should leave a track and jam should cling to the spoon (rather than running off). The jam in the pot will also be a lot glossier/smooth.

  5. While jam is cooking, wash and sterilize jars and rings by submerging under water and boiling for 10 minutes. Throw in the lids once they’ve boiled for 10min and turn off water.

  6. Remove rosemary sprigs and fill jars, leaving 1/2 -inch headspace. Screw on rings loosely, submerge again in water for another 10 minutes to seal.

  7. Store at room temperature. Jam is good for up to 1 year.

*The foam is tasty and has a cool texture, kind of like meringue! Next time I do this, I want to blend into egg white foam and see if it will set up into a cookie, but is great and fun on desserts regardless.

The flesh is yellow in color and the taste tart-sweet. Cut around the pit, as it does not fall out willingly. 

The flesh is yellow in color and the taste tart-sweet. Cut around the pit, as it does not fall out willingly. 

Spiced Plum Chutney

Makes about four, 8-ounce jars. Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver (with a lot more kick added!)

  • 2.2 pounds plums, pitted and chopped
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced

  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil (grapeseed or vegetable)

  • 3 fresh bay leaves

  • 7 cloves

  • 9 allspice seeds

  • 1 tablespoon black or yellow mustard seeds

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds

  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (optional - this amount is pretty spicy)

  • 1-3/4 cups brown sugar

  • 3 tablespoons grated ginger

  • Zest from 1 large orange

  • Juice from 1 large orange

  • 300ml cider vinegar or 200ml red wine + 100ml water

  • 1/2-1 teaspoon salt

  1. Cook shallots in oil on low until golden.

  2. Add bay leaves and all spices except for ginger and sauté for 1 minute.

  3. Stir in plums. Add sugar, ginger, and orange zest. Squeeze juice from orange into measuring cup, top off with cider vinegar or vinegar/water combination until it reaches 450ml. Add this to plums and bring to a boil. Simmer until thick about 30 minutes - 1 hour. Salt to taste. 

  4. While chutney is cooking, wash and sterilize jars and rings by submerging under water and boiling for 10 minutes. Throw in the lids once they’ve boiled for 10min and turn off water.

  5. Remove bay leaves and as many allspice seeds as you can and fill jars, leaving 1/2 -inch headspace. Screw on rings loosely, submerge again in water for another 10 minutes to seal.

  6. Store at room temperature. Chutney is good for up to 1 year.

To label jam, I use old paper grocery bags - just trace the outside of a ring, cut out a circle slightly smaller than the outer edge, and then screw on top of the lid. 

To label jam, I use old paper grocery bags - just trace the outside of a ring, cut out a circle slightly smaller than the outer edge, and then screw on top of the lid. 

Phases of plum.

Phases of plum.