I love making New Year’s resolutions. I also love making first day of each month resolutions, Monday resolutions, birthday resolutions and first day of each season resolutions.
At this rate, soon I’ll be making anniversary resolutions, new moon resolutions, full moon resolutions and my dog’s birthday resolutions.
Which would be fine, if I kept them.
But I find that usually I make the same resolutions year after year, and don’t ever seem to keep them. Which could be because they’re unrealistic (I’d like to start a food blog and lose 15 pounds), or because I’m a little ADD (I’d love to become a hippie vegan yoga teacher… that cheesecake recipe looks amazing!)
So for New Year’s at least, I moved away from the traditional lose-weight resolutions, and tried to make them a little more interesting. For 2013, I gave myself twelve different food-related goals, none of which I’d attempted making before:
- Vegan caramels
- Crème brûlée
- Seared ahi tuna
- Homemade pasta
- Can something
- Deep-fry something
- Make a proper multi-course dinner
It’s almost the end of September, however, and I’ve only completed seven. And since summer recently ended, I figured I should try my hand at canning something.
I didn’t know much about jam, other than that my oma used to make the best strawberry freezer jam, which I ate on white bread with margarine almost every day as a kid. But I went out and bought no-sugar-needed pectin (thinking I would stick to my diet, until I was actually recipe hunting and found one that called for sugar and no pectin) and a some mason jars. And then I went to the farmer’s market and bought a massive bag of plums.
Since I live in a small apartment and a canner is about the fiftieth small kitchen appliance on my wish list, (if anyone is feeling generous, a KitchenAid stand mixer is the first – I’m sure my mom would appreciate getting hers back) I read some Google recommendations to use the dishwasher instead to steam-heat the jars before filling them with jam. The part I was more concerned about was the post-filling ten minutes of 180 degrees Fahrenheit required to set the jam before cooling. Since I don’t have a tall enough pot, I opted to put the jars in the oven, preheated to 180 degrees.
After about five minutes out of the oven, I heard the first pop of a sealed lid! At the end of the day, all five of my jars sealed. And the vanilla plum jam was delicious on fresh-baked bread – a grown-up version of my childhood favourite.
If only the rest of my New Year’s resolutions were so successful.
Vanilla Plum Blueberry Jam
Makes about five 8-ounce jars
Adapted from The Food Network
one and a half pounds prune plums, pitted
two and a quarter cups granulated sugar
three cinnamon sticks
two vanilla beans, sliced in half lengthwise
zest and juice of one lemon
one and a half pounds blueberries
Slice the plums into about quarter-inch pieces, and put in a large pot. Add the sugar, cinnamon sticks, vanilla and lemon. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Lower the heat to medium and let boil for about half an hour, stirring every few minutes (I got distracted by making labels and burnt the bottom, so try not to forget to stir). Meanwhile, start heating your jars and their lids (use the dishwasher if you don’t have a proper canner).
Remove the jam from heat and let sit for half an hour. Depending on how fast your oven is, at some point preheat it to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
Put the jam back on the stove and bring to a boil again over medium-high heat. Add the blueberries, lower the heat to medium, and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the cinnamon sticks and the vanilla bean husks (if you can find them – I couldn’t, so I issued warnings when I gifted the jam).
Use an oven mitt to grab the jars out of the dishwasher. Fill them with jam about half an inch from the top, and screw on the lids. Transfer to the oven for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven, and let cool at room temperature. Cross your fingers and pray and stare fixedly at the lids until they seal.
Store in the refrigerator once opened.