IMG_4486a

I don’t eat a lot of jam.  But I love making it.

Within two months of learning to can in the summer of 2011, I had filled our pantry with about 50 half-pints of strawberry, blackberry, apple, grape, and fig jams.  Christmas that year, I realized I didn’t even know enough people to give all my jam away.  Meanwhile, I never stopped making jam.  But moving across country a year later forced me to pare down my pantry and slow my rate of jam-making.  Just recently, I finally cleared out all of my pre-2013 jams.

But several days ago, our good friend Sherry offered up plums from her backyard tree to her Facebook friends.  I had to.

IMG_4444a

I went over to her house to retrieve my near-bushel of these golf ball-sized gems.  These are the best plums I’ve ever tasted.  Picked at their peak, thin-skinned, with a sweet amber flesh.  After setting some aside just for eating, I got to work pitting them.  Maddox wanted to help.

IMG_4477a

Once pitted and cut into eighths, I still had more plums than I had ever jammed before.  I’d have to make two batches to ensure even cooking.  And since I was making two batches, I decided to just make two recipes.  (And I still have several pints of plums left over!  A plum liqueur will be made!)

For the first batch, I wanted to do a basic jam, thick with threads of fruit pulp.  I added cardamom for aromatics that wouldn’t bog down the flavor or mask the plums themselves.  For the second batch, I wanted a satiny-smooth fruit butter.  But most fruit butter recipes are loaded with cinnamon and nutmeg — no one in August wants to eat a fruit spread that tastes like Thanksgiving.  So I kept the recipe spice-free to highlight the sunny summeryness of these plums.  Brown sugar also adds a caramel backbone that invokes toasted marshmallows.

IMG_4476a

Plum Cardamom Jam

Yield:  about 6 half-pints | Adapted from Canning for a New Generation (Krissoff)

  • 10 C chopped (into eighths) plums
  • 3 C granulated sugar
  • 2 T fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 4 T fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 T freshly-ground green cardamom seeds

Prepare water-bath canner and sterilize jars.  In large non-reactive pot, cook plums and sugar over medium heat until softened (about 5 minutes).  Add lime juice, lemon juice, and cardamom.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching on bottom of pot.  Plums typically break down easily just from the heat and stirring, but underripe fruit may need to be coaxed along with a potato masher.  Once the set point is reached, ladle into jars.  Secure lids and process in water-bath canner for 10 minutes.

IMG_4508a

Brown Sugar Plum Butter

Yield:  about 6 half-pints | Adapted from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving (Topp & Howard)

  • 10 C chopped (into eighths) plums
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 3 T fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 C brown sugar

Prepare water-bath canner and sterilize jars.  In large non-reactive pot, cook plums, lemon juice, and granulated sugar over medium heat until softened (about 5-10 minutes).  Use an immersion blender (or transfer to upright blender or food processor) and blend until smooth.  Add brown sugar and incorporate well.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching on bottom of pot.  Once the butter mounds on a spoon, ladle into jars.  Secure lids and process in water-bath canner for 15 minutes.

IMG_4498a

Canning newbie?  For a good overview with step-by-step instructions, check out either Tart and Sweet (Geary & Knadler) or the Ball Blue Book.

Both the jam and butter go equally well spread on a flatbread with farmers cheese or ricotta.

IMG_4516a

IMG_4520a

Share the love! Pin on Pinterest455Share on Yummly0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on Tumblr0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on StumbleUpon0Digg thisShare on Reddit0Email this to someone