One of my favorite childhood memories was spending a warm summer afternoons with a cookie tray on my lap, a paring knife in hand, and a large bowl of fruit by my side, prepping for jam, or for canning. My grandmother devoted many summer days each year to “putting up fruit” which we then savored all winter. What I’ve realized now in retrospect is that my grandmother wasn’t much for experimentation. We made the same jam and the same canned fruit each season. My childhood friend Helen is obsessed with canning and making jams. Helen – unlike my grandmother, is willing to try just about anything. Over the years she’s experimented with adding herbs to her fruit, and more up my alley – adding alcohol. This is one of her tried and true recipes that she does every year and gives away as holiday gifts. We used three types of plums, bright yellow, dark purple and deep red. We could all do to channel a little bit of Helen and try something new.
Plums in Vodka (makes about 4 pints, recipe can be doubled easily)
- 2 lbs plums (we used snazzy bright yellow plums), washed
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cinnamon stick
Prick the plums eight times around the outside, twice on top and twice on the bottom. One does this so that when the plum starts to cook it doesn’t heat up the inside so much that it blows the skin right off of the fruit. The same concept works for baked potatoes. I’m wondering if pricking the outside of the average toddler might help stave off tantrums.
Put the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and turn the heat on high. Bring to a boil. Add the plums. Turn the heat down to medium low and cook the plums for 10 minutes, gently pushing them around the pot all the while. Set the pot and plums aside and allow the plums to steep in the sugar water overnight (just set the pot on your counter and cover with foil).
The next day bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Using a slotted spoon remove the plums from the sugar syrup and place them into sterilized pint jars. Place one cinnamon stick in the heated sugar water. Bring that to a boil for two minutes. Fill sterilized jars halfway with the sugar syrup. Break the cinnamon stick into pieces and place in the jars. Fill the jars to the top with room temperature vodka. Put sterilized lids and bands on the jars. Place the finished product on a cool dark shelf and DO NOT TOUCH for three months.