Plums in a Jar: Spicy, Spirited Keepers!{22}

Italian prune plums in jars

I’m a man who’s a fan of things to can, a preserve practitioner ready to bottle up summer sweet things at a moment’s notice or as availability allows. So when the folks at the asked me to be a CANbassador, delivering a case of succulent Washington state plums, peaches and nectarines along with the question, “What can you do with these?” my brain simmered like a stock pot of steaming chutney.

Sweet Preservation Canning AmbassadorAs you can see, I take my responsibilities as Canbassador quite seriously. (Too bad I don’t have a staff or  a budget.)

plum still life After scorching my cerebral resources, I turned to my larder of dogeared cookbooks and found this enticing recipe from the River Cottage Handbook No. 2: Preserves (by Pam Corbin): Spiced Brandy Plums.  Spices, liquor, and fruit, what’s not to like? Of course, I had to add a couple of other things just for good measure. (Monotype print above by Vashon artist Brian Fisher)canning sugar syrupRECIPE: Spiced Brandy Plums

Makes 5 pint jars

  • 2-3 pounds of European plums (like Italian prune, Imperial Epineuse, Green Gage, etc.)
  • 1 cup of honey
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 orange, zest and juice
  • 1/2 cup of brandy
  • 5 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 star anise
  • 1″ knob of ginger root, sliced (optional)
  • 15 cloves (optional)


Brandy Syrup

  1. Add honey to water and heat until it dissolves and is a uniform liquid
  2. Add orange juice, orange zest and brandy to solution
  3. Remove from heat and set aside.


  1. Wash and halve plums, remove pits and stems
  2. Place plums sliced side down in the jars, overlapping
  3. Fill jar with plums up to 1″ from top
  4. Add 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, 1 ginger slice and 3 cloves to each jar


  1. Pour warm syrup over fruit leaving 1″ head space
  2. Gently press on plums to remove air bubbles
  3. Seal and process in a water bath for 20 minutes, gentle simmer
  4. Instructions on water bath canning.

In the cold of winter when the days are dark and the fireplace flickers brightly, I’ll enjoy this nightcap in a bowl. Nothing like a little sweetness and brandy to spice up a fellow’s dreams and state of hibernation.

Enjoy, and don’t forget to visit, for more canning ideas.