Cold and dark afternoons call for some fruit preserving, plus isn’t it wonderful to have a spiced jam out on your Christmas table? If you’re looking for new flavours, you should try this plum and clove jam. Plums have a rich taste, that gets enhanced with cocoa powder and cloves, which are just great around Christmas. Share it with your loved ones during Christmas lunch, or jar it and give it to friends as present. Who doesn’t love a thrifty DIY Christmas gift, especially when it’s made with love?
Plums and cloves, plus cocoa!
Last year when my friend Ele visited me, she brought along 1 Kg of plums as she was afraid they’d go bad while she was away. Those poor plums had very little taste, they had definitely been harvested at the wrong time for them. I suggested we could make plum jam out of them. Loading them with sugar would certainly help. To enhance the flavour we added some cloves and cocoa powder. Cocoa? Yup. We had just spent a few days in Krakow together, where she got to eat a tart filled with plum cocoa jam. Boom! We were instantly inspired.
Plum and clove jam, it is, with cocoa powder. Neeeeeat! Cocoa adds a lovely depth to the flavour of the plums, and the cloves come as an aftertaste. A fantastic spiced plum jam. When this year she visited again (it has become a tradition, plus she helps me with photo shoots. It is her hand you see featured in my mushroom crostini recipe), we made plum and clove jam again. With cocoa, ça va sans dire.
Here’s where to have great tarts and cappuccino in Krakow.
DYI Christmas gift: a spiced jam
If you’re looking for a fruit preserve to make this upcoming holiday season, I’d say that my recipe is a perfect Christmas plum jam. Cloves are such a classic at this time of the year. While plum and cocoa are two flavours that have traditionally been paired together, the addition of cloves makes this jam a little more unique and special. What I personally find amazing is that the cloves hit you after you have detected the flavours of the plums and the cocoa. While you’d expect the pungent smell of the cloves to hit you first, it actually comes last.
This jam is in fact a plum and apple jam, as you add an apple to supply the pectin. Other than that, it’s just the sugar and spices (is cocoa a spice? Well, whatever, you know what I mean…). No pectin is added to the jam. Besides from giving flavour, the cocoa powder also gives this jam a lovely brown hue. The cloves are added whole, simmered together with the fruits, and then removed from the jam. Ground cloves would also do the job, just make sure they’re finely ground (powdered) to avoid woody bits on the bite here and there.
How to simmer whole spices in a spiced jam
In order to extract the flavour of the cloves, you want to simmer them for some time in your jam. If using whole cloves, that means that you would then have to let the jam cool and extract each and every single clove by hand. Doable, but such a big job. I vouch for that, because I’ve done it myself. Until I learned another way that can simplify your life SO. MUCH.
You might be thinking: hey but why not use powdered cloves? Yeah, that is an option. But I had very high quality whole cloves I wanted to use in this recipe. So here’s the trick: whenever you’re adding whole spices to a jam, just place them all in an empty teabag. Simmer your jam with the spice-filled teabag in, and discard once your final product is ready. The flavour will stay, and taking away all the debris from the spices will be as easy as pie. Empty teabags meant to be used with loose-leaf tea are commercially available, so just get one of those. It’s really worth the pain of plucking out every single clove.
Read more: In the mood for other hot spiced preparations? Try my mulled wine!
Plum and clove jam
A flavourful plum jam with cloves and cocoa. Perfect for this time of the year, both to share on your Christmas table and to give away in cute little jars as present.
- 1 Kg plums
- 400 g sugar
- 1 apple
- 30 g cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp whole cloves
Halve and seed the plums. Peel and core the apple, dice it and add it to the plums. Add fruits to a large pot with a thick bottom and set on medium-high heat.
Add the sugar, cocoa powder and cloves and stir to evenly distribute the sugar. Keep on medium-high heat for the first 15 minutes, stirring from time to time.
After the first 15 minutes, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a lid and let simmer for 45 minutes, just checking occasionally to make sure the jam is not sticking to the bottom of the pan.
After the first hour on the heat, remove the lid and let simmer uncovered for 30 more minutes. Stir from time to time, as during this stage the jam will reduce and it may stick to the bottom of the pot more easily.
When the jam has reached a nice thick texture, after cooking for about 1,5 hours, remove from the heat. Remove all the cloves and blend the jam for a smoother even texture. Jar immediately, or let cool to use as a spread. The flavour of the cloves is much more intense when the jam is hot, and will diminish as it cools.
Place cloves in a teabag and simmer in the jam bagged. This way it will be much easier to remove the cloves than plucking them out one by one.
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