Plum jam (Pekmez od šljiva)

Pekmez od šljiva is time consuming and a bit of a workout–as you have to continuously stir the pot to prevent burning–, but well worth it in the end. A little more muscle in your arms and a very grateful belly! Simultaneously watching a movie off my laptop or reading a book really helps the process go along rather quickly. As I mentioned in my recipe for knedle sa šljivama, the plums that are used in these recipes are damson (prunus insititia). Here in Belgium, you can find “prune président” and in the US, “Italian” or “prune” plums (if you can find them), and although either of these options are not damson, they are a close enough sub-species.

  • 2 1/2 kilos of pitted damson plums (I started out with about 3 kilos in tact)
  • 275 grams of sugar

Place the plums into a large bowl or onto a baking sheet.  Try to place the cut sides up and sprinkle all over with sugar. Leave on the counter for about an hour or so, allowing the sugar to dissolve into them and create a bit of a syrup.

Next place everything into a large pot (scraping in any syrup that remains on the sheet) and bring to a boil over medium to high heat. The trick here is to not allow the plums to burn (which can happen very easily!), so immediately start mashing the plums with the back of a wooden spoon to help the breakdown process and encourage even cooking. Continuously stir the mixture until it begins to softly boil. Turn down the heat and continue simmering/slow boiling the jam, stirring to prevent any burning. You should also taste it (very carefully, it’s hot!) to see if it is sweet enough to your taste, adding sugar if necessary. The jam should cook for this for a few hours, between 2 and 4 depending on how thick you like it. At this point you can use a hand blender to blend up the plum skins, otherwise you can try to fish them out with a spoon.

After 2 hours, remove from the stove and allow to cool. Check to see if it is at a good thickness, by placing a spoonful of jam on a plate and placing in the fridge for a few minutes. If its hardened to your preferred consistency, its ready, otherwise continue cooking. After another hour of cooking, repeat the consistency test.

When the jam seems to just be about right, start prepping the jars by boiling them in a large pot. Once they have boiled for 10 minutes, simply remove the pot from the heat and set to the side (You want them warm for when you add the boiling jam later.) I usually do the lids in a separate smaller pot, but you can add them into same as long as they aren’t the ones for mason jars.

When ready, add the jam each of the jars using a ladle and funnel. Screw the lids on tightly, then immediately turn upside on a wooden cutting board or other heat resistant surface. Leave them upside down for about 5 – 8 minutes, then flip right side up and allow to cool completely. They should have vacuum sealed, but if any do not, place them into the fridge as they will not be shelf stable.

On the shelf, they are good for at least a year, maybe two, if they last that long! I usually make just enough to hold me until next year’s harvest.

I usually serve the jam with palačinke or on top of buttered bread, but also sometimes in pastries or cakes and as a krafne (Croatian donut) filling. It would also be good in my recipe for Russian blinchiki.

Enjoy!

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