Several years ago we planted a Santa Rosa plum tree in the backyard. It produced a small amount of fruit at first, but this year, with my husband’s pruning and a light oil spray in February, we have a nice crop of fragrant and flavorful plums. In the past I made plum jam from a neighbor’s Satsuma plum tree, but now that I have my own plums I have been working on plum syrup and jelly without using pectin. It has taken a while, but I finally have a product I am happy enough with to share. This syrup and jelly are gorgeous; the rich red color is beautiful and the flavor is wonderful. (I may even try an Italian jam/jelly tart for Thanksgiving using the plum jelly.) Begin by making plum juice. If you want to make plum syrup, cook your juice and sugar to 205 degrees, then pour into jars; if you want thin jelly, cook mixture to 210-211 degrees; if you want a thicker jelly, cook to 215-216 degrees. Water bath the jars for 10 minutes. This is excellent on French toast or biscuits.
Santa Rosa Plum Syrup and Jelly
3-1/2-4 lbs. (c. 40 medium-sized) Santa Rosa Plums, stemmed but left whole
2 c. water
5-1/2 c. plum juice
6-1/2 c. sugar
7-8 (half-pint) jars that have been sterilized in the dishwasher
You begin by making plum juice. Place 40 whole, stemmed plums in a 5 quart stockpot, add 2 cups of water, bring to a boil, and let it cook on medium high heat, stirring and mashing occasionally, for 20 minutes. The plums completely fall apart and you are left with a lovely juice. Strain – it will give you 5-1/2 cups of juice. While the juice is being strained, fill the water bath canner with water and bring to a boil to process the jars. Then return the strained juice to the pot. Add sugar, attach a candy thermometer to the edge of the pot, and bring to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. When the thermometer registers 205 degrees you have reached the syrup stage. (It should only take 5-7 minutes.) For jelly, bring the temperature up to between 210-216 degrees, depending on your preference for firmness. (This should take 15-18 minutes.) Pour into clean, sterilized jars. Wipe the rim with a damp paper towel. Screw on the lids. Water bath for 10 minutes. Makes 7 (half-pint) jars.