Making jam is more than a recipe; it’s an art. It’s a way of life. To be able to see in-season fruit and know you can preserve it for later enjoyment is both a comfort and a thrill.
At its simplest, jam is simply fruit, sugar and pectin, the latter, which is what sets the jam into a semi-solid state, added to the mix either from acidic citrus juice or from shelf-stable powdered pectin. But jam also offers the opportunity to be creative, allowing you to add anything from your favourite liquor to black pepper (a wonderful match for ripe strawberries).
This recipe captures the last of the warmer-weather stone fruit and berries, represented by plums and raspberries, and pairs them with the rich complexity of balsamic vinegar. When cooked with the fruit and sugar, as well as a hit of vanilla, the earthy sweetness of the balsamic elevates and enhances the flavour of the fruit, producing a jam you’ll want to eat straight from the jar by the spoonful.
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Quarter the plums, discarding the stones and stems. Combine in a large pot with the raspberries, sugar, lemon juice, balsamic and the seeds from the scraped vanilla beans.
Bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for approximately an hour, or until jam thickens (to test, coat the back of a cold spoon with jam and run your finger through it. If the line your finger makes remains, the jam is set).
Transfer jam carefully into sterilised jars and close lids. Jam will keep unrefrigerated for up to 18 months. Refrigerate after opening.