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Damson Plum & Gin Jam

Damson Plum and Gin Jam

Finding the elusive Damson plum in the wild (aka the farmers’ market) is like hitting the culinary jackpot. I somehow stumbled across the diminutive fruit two years ago, where I made a batch of what is still one of my favorite jams. It was a complete fluke that I saw the fruit that first time, and sheer luck that I stopped and took a closer look, rather than dismissing them as abnormally large grapes (I can’t stand grapes).

Alas, last year I struck out, not quite remembering when I had found them the year before so I didn’t know whether to start looking in July or September. My plum-lessness could have also been due to the unusual heat that assaulted us last summer, perhaps preventing the plums from coming to fruition at all (or fruit-ion, if you will). Either way, I was bummed. Plum bummed.

Damson Plums

This year, I struck gold indigo. During a quick trip to the market for a tomato or two, I could barely contain my glee when I spotted a vendor filling a basket with dark purple gems. In fact, they kind of look like mutant blueberries, with the same mottled skin and clear flesh. Giant blueberries with pits.

As I observed two years ago, the plums themselves aren’t anything special. The skins are tart and tannic, and the flesh, while clear and sweet is not nearly as flavorful as the more common plum varieties. They’re really not worth eating on their own.

In my mind, they are destined for one thing and one thing only: jam. Glorious jam.

Damson Plum and Gin Jam

This year, however, while I used the same base recipe as before, I decide to add a generous swig of gin. I know one of the other uses for these plums is an infused gin, so I figured that gin and plums are a proven combination. While the gin flavor is subtle, it does add a slight herbal fragrance and spicy finish that the jam wouldn’t have otherwise.

I hope you all don’t think I have a drinking problem, despite the boozy nature of my posts recently. Rather, I have a baking problem: the bottles of bourbon and gin and wine and Taylor’s precious beer are more apt to end up in baked goods or jam than my glass, which 90% of the time is filled with ice water or gingerale. Go figure.

Be sure to click through for the recipe and BONUS printable labels!

Damson Plum & Gin Jam

Yield: 5-6 half-pint jars

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 24 hours

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds damson plums, pitted
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup gin

Directions:

  1. Place pitted plums in the bowl of a food processor; pulse briefly until coarsely chopped (do not purée). You can also chop the plums by hand if you prefer a coarser texture.
  2. In a large nonreactive bowl, gently toss the plums with the sugar. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours or in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. Prepare canner and wash/sterilize 6 half-pint (or equivalent) canning jars. Keep jars in hot (not boiling) water until ready to use. Place 2 or 3 small plates in the freezer.
  4. Transfer the plums to a large nonreactive saucepan and add lemon juice and gin. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Spoon 1 teaspoon of jam onto a chilled plate to test if the jam is ready (the jam is ready if it wrinkles when nudged gently with a finger). If it isn't yet ready, continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then test again on a clean plate.
  5. Ladle hot jam into jars, leaving 1/4-inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary. Wipe the rims clean and top with lid; screw on ring until finger tight. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from water and let cool completely, 12 to 24 hours. Check seals. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used within 1 month.

Adapted from The Art of Preserving.

Free Printable Damson Plum Jam LabelsBonus! Because there’s nothing more depressing than a naked jar. These pretty, rustic labels will make your jam as sweet on the outside as it is on the inside.

I’m offering these jam labels to you, free for personal use. Simply download the printable file, then print onto full-sheet sticker paper (I used a brown kraft label paper from onlinelabels.com, but you could use white or any color, really). Cut out the labels and apply directly to the the finished jars. These labels were designed to fit these 6 oz oval hex jars, but should fit most standard mason jars as well.

Download Now »

Disclaimer: Copyright Love & Olive Oil. For personal use only. If you post about or share these labels, please credit appropriately and do not link directly to the downloadable file but rather to this post. Please do not distribute these downloadable files. Thank you much!

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24 CommentsLeave a Comment →

  1. 1
    Posted On September 19, 2013 at 7:32 am

    I love the idea of putting gin in some jam!

    Reply

  2. 2
    Posted On September 19, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Booze in jam? COUNT ME IN. The light on these photos is unbelievable! 

    Reply

  3. 3
    Maggie B
    Posted On September 19, 2013 at 7:43 am

    This looks lovely, though I suspect these fruits are native to New England?  Good think you explained what they were though, because I was trying to figure out why you were talking about plums but showing pictures of gigantic blueberries. =)  Or grapes.  Actually, they do look very much like the wild grapes we have all over Rhode Island. =)

    Reply

    • Posted On September 19, 2013 at 7:46 am

      I’m not sure where they come from originally but they do grow here in Tennessee. The season is very short, they’ll be at the market one weekend and gone the next. If you see them (and confirm they are NOT grapes) definitely snatch them up!

    • Posted On May 28, 2014 at 7:57 pm

      Thank you so much. We are blessed with having one tree on our Farm in Camiling, Philippines. In May/June this single tree produces more fruit than we can eat or sell. So, thanks to your post, we make jam. Gin is about 1$US a bottle here, we replaced the Lemon Juice with Calamansie (a native fruit similar to Lime), the end product sts well on most breakfast items, hotcakes, toast and the like. Thank you again

  4. 4
    Posted On September 19, 2013 at 8:01 am

    This brought back memories of the first jam I made with my mother–plum. I’m not sure she would have thought of adding Gin, but I think it sounds wonderful and a must try. On to the Farmer’s Market this Saturday! XOXO

    Reply

  5. 5
    Posted On September 19, 2013 at 8:08 am

    That jam looks so good. The first picture is absolutely stunning! I have no problem if you want to continue boozing it up in your recipes and how did I not know you don’t like grapes?!

    Reply

  6. 6
    Posted On September 19, 2013 at 9:34 am

    You know.. just last month I made a batch of plum jam.. and one of my readers wrote in and told me how she adds alcohol to her jams and its fantastic.. she adds rum to her plum jam and whiskey to her marmalade.. and now I see your version.. am sold.. I really have to try this soooon!!

    Reply

  7. 7
    Posted On September 19, 2013 at 9:35 am

    I love the photography, as per usual – amazing work. This jam sounds fantastic! 

    Reply

  8. 8
    Posted On September 19, 2013 at 10:26 am

    I love Damson Jam! My British family made it all the time- rarely see it here in the states. What a treat to see it here with the fun boozy addition. Will have to put this on my to-do list!

    Reply

  9. 9
    Posted On September 19, 2013 at 11:44 am

    I love the intense color it has. That deep reddish plum (ha) color is gorgeous! If that were a nailcolor swatch, I’d totally wear it. Sorry, definitely not comparing your gorgeous jam to nailcolor! Lol…they really do look like mutant blueberries! I can just see myself at the market being like, “woah, look at these blueberries on steroids!” hehe :)

    Reply

  10. 10
    Posted On September 19, 2013 at 11:47 am

    I love adding a splash of bourbon or rum to so many things – it generally cooks off and the flavor that’s left behind is subtle, but rich and wonderful. I can imagine the gin here is great and mutant giant berries with pits. Love that :) And love what you did with them!

    Reply

  11. 11
    Posted On September 19, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Wow, your jam looks absolutely gorgeous! Wonderful recipe! (:

    Reply

  12. 12
    Posted On September 19, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    LOVE the jam labels!  Looks so clean and professional.  I seriously thought that you had bottled and placed this jam up for sale (which I would purchase).

    Reply

  13. 13
    Posted On September 20, 2013 at 9:45 am

    I love your labels… makes things so pretty

    Reply

  14. 14
    Posted On September 22, 2013 at 3:08 am

    Love these labels.
    good idea, thank you for sharing!

    Reply

  15. 15
    Lesley
    Posted On September 22, 2013 at 8:26 am

    I’m from the UK and Damson Jam is VERY popular here.  Mainly grown in Hereford/Worcestershire along with plums, pears and apples.  There are huge damson/plum festivals at harvest time.  We regularly B&B at a farm in Worecestershire that has a small damson orchard and we are regularly sent home with huge boxes of damsons.  Skimming off the very small stones is a pain-in-the-butt exercise but so worth it to see the jars in the cupboard afterwards.  They also make the BEST crumbles, slumps and pies imaginable – if anyone in the US ever sees them in the supermarket/farmers market snap them up – you will not be disappointed.  Also look on  the web for a damson crumble recipe from British chef Nigel Slater – sublime!

    Reply

  16. 16
    Posted On September 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Just found some coincidentally at the grocery store after coming across this post on Pinterest.  Can’t wait to try it!  I might have to drive back and buy some more since it sounds like they are quite scarce!

    Reply

  17. 17
    Posted On September 22, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    This delicious recipe looks lovely for Autumn! I shall look forward to giving it a go!

    Reply

  18. 18
    Posted On September 25, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    I just made a big batch of this and it came out amazing! Thank you for sharing :)

    Reply

  19. 19
    Pam
    Posted On September 26, 2013 at 9:00 am

    I live in the UK and only discovered damsons a couple of years ago in the hedgerows close to our weekend holiday home. We were unsure of what they were at first so picked one and asked a friend then went back and picked a bag full. The jam we made was amazing and we had not tasted anything like it before! That was it, we are now hooked on anything damson and make as much damson jam (with Gin I might add) and damson vodka and damson gin which is gorgeous and very easy to make.

    To make damson gin, prick 1lb damsons with a pin, put in a large jar and add a bottle of gin ( or vodka – we make both) and add 4 to 6 oz sugar. Put a lid on and shake well for about a week then store somewhere dark and cold for 2-3 months until Christmas and strain and bottle. Taste before bottling and add more sugar if you want it any sweeter then allow the sugar dissolve again for a few days before bottling. This drink gets better with age too :-)

    Reply

  20. 20
    Fred Mahaffey
    Posted On October 3, 2013 at 7:06 am

    This year I experimented with a several fruit/wine combinations and discovered Damsons go really well with a good quality Merlot. I used six cups of cooked fruit (pits removed) and 2 cups of merlot. The boiling process drives off the alcohol, but leaves the “bouquet” behind.

    As described by Pam from the UK, I, too, have made Damson Plum liqueur for several years now. It is a perennial favorite especially a year later after it has aged in the bottle.

    Reply

  21. 21
    Julia
    Posted On March 1, 2014 at 10:56 am

    I accidentally found your website, which I LOVE and LOVE.
    Where did you get this glass jar?
    Thank you.

    Reply

  22. 22
    Cinda
    Posted On August 24, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Can’t wait to make this, but I had a question. I’m making Damson Gin right now, but once that is decanted after 3 months, what is left is lots of gin-soaked Damsons. Do you think the gin flavor would be too intense to use these to make jam? A friend once made fruit leather (that was rather gooey but yummy) out of them and that didn’t taste too much like gin. 

    Reply

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