Thursday, August 5, 2010

what's your favorite thing?

My son has been following me around the house asking me this question for days mainly because he loves the answer. He teases me, challenges me, and laughs with hysteria as I answer, "plum jam" every time.

Him: "Don't you know that PEOPLE are more important than plum jam?"
Me: "Noooo...nothing is better than plum jam."
Him: "OH COME ON! You like Baby better than plum jam!"
Me: "I'm not so sure..."
Him: "Mom. I'm your son. The care of others comes first."
Me: "Stop with the guilt tripping. I'm all UH-BOUT some plum jam!"
Him: "Name your three favorite things!"
Me: "Plum jam, plum jam, plum jam!"

I've never thought a whole lot about plums. Sure, summer rolls around and I cut those luscious California black plums into eighths for snacks, but I've never really thought of them outside the odd offering of a sauce next to duck or turned into prunes which Mom would warn to never eat more than two of.

But, when my parents decided to go out of town and left me with a sack of plums, I decided to turn them into jam without much of a clue as to how I was going to accomplish it. Do you peel the plums? How much sugar do you use? The recipes vary, but I decided not to peel them, and chose to lower the sugar content because most times I felt like people were calling for way too much.

What I came up with astounded me. It is the most heavenly pinky red color and tastes like heaven. This summer I've canned like a locavore, but I'm really glad I took a leap and used these West coast beauties.

plum jam

4.5 cups chopped, pitted, unpeeled black plums
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1 package of pectin
6 cups sugar

Chop your plums and place them in a large pot with the lemon juice and water. Cook them on medium-low heat for ~20 minutes or until soft.

Once soft, add the pectin and bring the mixture to a rolling boil for one minute. Then, add the sugar, stirring constantly. This is the first time that I've used a candy thermometer to really look for accuracy in temperature, but I found it was very helpful in watching for 220 degrees. This resulted in a really nice semi-firm set.

As you can see, the plums cook up just beautifully. Next, ladle the hot mixture into prepared jars, and add lids and rings. I ended up with 4 half pint and 5 four ounce jars of jam. I am really glad I used less sugar, and truly would even consider lowering the content to around 5 cups. This has been probably been the most delicious fruit preserve I've made this summer. Maybe I'll consider red plums when I'm finished putting up the 1/2 bushel of peaches I just bought!