Everyone is smitten after one taste of this sweet, spicy and oh-so-delicious Plum Ginger Pepper Jelly. It's also super easy and makes a great gift!
"More plums?", Scott asked recently, as I filled up a big bag with the sweet, crimson orbs at our local grocery. He had a good reason for asking. I've probably bought my weight in plums this past month. In addition to testing for this Upside Down Plum Yogurt Cake and this Easy Plum Raspberry Crumb Tart, I've gone through a ridiculous number of plums in coming up with this Plum Ginger Pepper Jelly. And in the process, I learned an important lesson.
What did I learn? Don't believe everything you read! Why do I say this? I thought you might want to know... before I set out creating a new jam or jelly recipe, I always check with online resources to see if the particular fruit I'm using is high or low in pectin. It's important because it has everything to do with whether the jam or jelly will "set" properly. To me, there's nothing more disappointing than purchasing the ingredients, then going through the process of making jam (or jelly) only to have it turn out thin or runny and suitable only for pancakes or ice cream topping.
When I googled, "Are plums high or low in pectin?", the first source that came up said, "Pears, apples, guavas, quince, plums, gooseberries, and oranges and other citrus fruits contain large amounts of pectin, while soft fruits, like cherries, grapes, and strawberries contain small amounts of pectin." It was online so I believed it. Not such a smart idea. At least 10 pounds of plums and numerous failed, runny batches of jam later, I realized that plums are lower in pectin than what this article indicated.
Long story short, I began to treat plums as not having a lot of their own pectin and immediately began having more success. Precisely, I adapted my Mango (low in pectin) Jalapeño Pepper Jelly recipe to work with plums and... voila! The results are perfect. Just a few little tricks like draining the diced plums well, adding a small amount of finely chopped apple and apple cider vinegar (high in pectin) as well as a generous splash of lemon juice (also high in pectin) were my solutions.
Options for storage
This Plum Ginger Pepper Jelly can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks or in the freezer for longer storage. It can also be canned in a hot water bath to make it shelf-stable. Using the hot water bath method is nice if you want to include it in a gift basket.
And speaking of gifts, a jar of this delicious Plum Ginger Pepper Jelly on its own or paired with a log of goat cheese and a box of gourmet (or homemade) crackers makes a delicious and thoughtful gift for hostesses, neighbors, teachers, hairdressers, etc. If you're interested in the pretty little label I created (below) to go on your jars, just leave me a comment below and I'll email you a printable PDF in two sizes.
No peeling needed!
Plums can be a little tricky to pit as they're usually not freestone. I make a slice slightly the left or right of the center of each plum so that my knife just misses the stone/pit. Then I go around the rest of the plum and cut off the remainder of the fruit so all that remains is the stone.
No need to peel the plums. Just chop the fruit finely and the tiny bits of peel will actually help thicken the jam and add pretty color.
What to do with pepper jelly?
I’m so glad you asked that question! Pepper jelly is fabulous spooned over cream cheese or goat cheese and served with crackers as an appetizer, but there are so many other delicious ways to use it. Here are a few ideas:
- It’s wonderful on a charcuterie tray with an assortment of slices or wedges of cheese. We love it with cheddars of all varieties as well as Havarti, Gouda, Manchego, Bleu, Roquefort and Gorgonzola. Wondering how to make a pretty charcuterie/cheese platter? My daughter, Cait, is an expert and she did a wonderful post last year with all the details. Check it out!
- Spread a bit of this Plum Ginger Pepper Jelly in between layers of cheese in a grilled sandwich.
- Make a salad dressing with it.
- Use it as a glaze for grilled or roasted meats. It’s also super delicious on salmon.
- Add a spoonful of pepper jelly when roasting veggies (a few minutes before they’re done).
- You could sub this Plum Ginger Pepper Jelly for the honey in these Honey Ginger Glazed Carrots – delish!
- Use as a topping for baked brie.
- For a high-protein, super delicious snack, sauté sliced chicken sausages until golden. Serve with a small bowl of this Plum Ginger Pepper Jelly for dipping.
- This pepper jelly makes a fabulous glaze on baked ham.
- Add a splash of rice vinegar and you’ve got a wonderful dipping sauce for egg rolls or wontons.
- Serve on these Ridiculously Easy Buttermilk Biscuits… oh my!
- This jelly makes a very gourmet, very delicious PB&J!
- For a savory treat, make thumbprint cookies with this pepper jelly!
- Use it as a unique topping for ice cream and serve with Irish Shortbread Cookies!
I’m sure you’ll come up with ways to use it that I haven’t thought about!
Be sure to pick up some plums before the season slips by and make this delicious Plum Ginger Pepper Jelly! You won't have to buy your weight in plums like I did because this recipe's perfect now. Having a supply of this fabulous condiment stashed in your freezer will make serving an appetizer super simple all year long. You might want to make a double batch so that, when the compliments start rolling in, you can pull out a jar and give it away!
Café Tips for making this Plum Ginger Pepper Jelly
- Be sure to drain the diced plums well to ensure that this jam sets well. I keep a sieve set over a bowl nearby as I'm dicing my plums and add them as I go. Measure the plums after you drain them.
- With plums being a fairly soft fruit, it's best to dice them by hand. This recipe also calls for finely diced bell pepper. I always use my Vidalia Chop Wizard to dice peppers. You can have a pepper finely chopped in less than a minute with this little kitchen workhorse.
- You can use red or black plums for this recipe. I really like the red ones as I think they result in a very pretty colored jelly. Black plums will give a deeper red hue.
- You might wonder why there is some chopped apple in this Plum Ginger Pepper Jelly. Soft ripe plums are lower in pectin than many other fruits. Pectin is “a soluble fiber found in fruits and vegetables, especially apples and citrus peels” according to healthline.com. It acts as a gelling agent that’s responsible for helping jams and jellies thicken. Even though this recipe calls for liquid pectin (I use Certo) there can still be setting problems when jams or jellies are made with fruits having little of their own natural pectin. A small amount of chopped apple (high in pectin) and a splash of fresh lemon juice (which also has lots of natural pectin) helps this pepper jelly set up nicely every time.
- As mentioned above, Certo is a liquid pectin used to help thicken jams and jellies. Most grocery stores carry it in the same area that you find mason jars and lids. If you can’t find it, just check with the front desk at the grocery, as sometimes stores stock these items in unusual places.
- Use a large pot when making this pepper jelly. The fruit and sugar mixture is boiled vigorously for 10 minutes before adding the pectin. An overflow of the sweet/spicy mixture will make a BIG mess on your stovetop.
- You might be wondering why there's butter in this Plum Ginger Pepper Jelly recipe. The butter helps reduce foaming that can occur as the jam boils.
- I don’t put this pepper jelly through a hot water bath, so it needs to be stored in the refrigerator (will keep well for several weeks) or in the freezer (keeps well for several months). If you prefer, you can use the hot water bath method which will make this jam shelf-stable.
- If you’re giving this jam as a gift, be sure to tell the recipient how to store it in the refrigerator when not in use or in the freezer for longer storage.
- You can freeze jelly right in the jars. Just make sure to leave a half-inch of space at the top of the jar to make room for expansion in the freezer. If you don't have a lot of room in your freezer, you can also freeze the jam in a plastic container or ziplock bag. When you thaw it, it can be transferred to a jar for everyday use or gifting.
- Jalapeños can vary greatly in intensity of heat. The seeds and the inner membranes are the hottest parts of the pepper. I like to start with 1 medium-size jalapeño and include the seeds and membranes. Right before adding the pectin, I take a little spoonful, allow it to cool a bit and take a taste. If it needs more heat, I’ll add a second pepper or part of another pepper.
- You might be tempted to cut back on the sugar. Don’t! Making jam/jelly with pectin is an exact science and you can mess up the setting properties by changing the proportions of fruit and sugar.
Thought for the day:
But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
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- 5 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups finely chopped red bell pepper (1 large or 2 small)
- 1 cup finely chopped and drained fresh plums (about 3 medium-size plums)
- ½ cup finely chopped apple ½ medium size apple
- 1½ tablespoon s finely grated fresh ginger
- 1-2 medium-size jalapeno peppers with the seeds finely chopped
- 1 ⅓ cups apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon butter
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 ounces liquid pectin 1 packet - I use Certo
Combine the sugar, chopped bell pepper, finely chopped and drained plums, diced apple, ginger, jalapeño peppers, vinegar and butter in a large, heavy pot. Stir to combine.
Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. After it’s cooked for 10 minutes, take a spoonful and allow the mixture to cool a bit. Taste and add additional jalapeño if you want more heat.
Add the fresh lemon juice and pectin and return the mixture to a vigorous boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring continuously.
Remove from heat and ladle into clean jars (sterile jars if you’re using the hot water bath canning method).
Cover jars and allow to sit for 24 hours at room temperature if you’re going to refrigerate or freeze the jam. Setting will occur as the jam cools and sits. After 24 hours refrigerate or freeze.
If using the hot water canning method proceed with this after step 4 above.
See Café Tips above in the post for further details and tips.
Makes 6 cups of jelly.
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