Thursday, October 7, 2010

Plum Conserve with Rum

(about 4 pints)

For the past month or two every time I have gone grocery shopping I have hurried over to the produce department looking for Italian prune plums, feeling disappointed each time I didn't see them. Last week I actually felt a bit panicked, wondering if I somehow overlooked them on a previous visit. It just seems to me there's a small window of time when they are available.

I finally saw them this week and grabbed a few pounds. This particular variety was huge. I have never seen them this large before.

This conserve has become an annual ritual for me. It's special on hot buttered toast. The only complaint I ever received was from a friend who was a bit upset she had eaten the entire jar with a spoon in one sitting. It was probably the rum, which that particular year I had added a lot more of.

3 lbs Italian prune plums, pitted and cut up
2 cups sugar, (add up to 1 cup more if you prefer this sweeter and less tangy)
juice and peel from 1 small - medium lemon, cut into small dice, (use half the peel if you prefer less lemony flavour)
1/2 cup dried currants
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/3 - 1/2 cup dark rum, to taste

Place the plums, sugar, lemon juice and diced lemon peels into a large stainless steel or coated saucepan. Turn on the heat to medium and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer until it begins to thicken; about 20-30 minutes depending on how runny or thick you'd like this to be. I keep a small plate in the freezer and add a small spoonful at a time to it until I see a consistency I like.

Stir in the currants and nuts and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the rum.

Ladle into hot sterilized jars, cover, cool and keep refrigerated.

If you plan on keeping the conserve longer than 4-6 weeks then ladle into hot sterilized jars, leaving about a 1/2" head space. Cover with metal lids, and screw on the bands. Process in boiling water bath 8 minutes (extend this time to 15 minutes if your jars weren't hot and sterilized beforehand). Remove from the water and leave to cool.

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