July 9, 2012 § Leave a comment
Plums, plums and more plums! It is officially plum season. My parents have an incredible plum tree in their backyard, which means that for the next few weeks I will have more plums than I know what to do with. It also means that this is probably the first of several posts involving plums!
I always know it’s time to start picking the plums when I start seeing them on the ground. It seems to happen almost over night. One day there are hundreds of small green plums on the tree, and the next the tree is heavy with purple and red fruits and the ground is spotted with the first overripe plums.
During the several weeks of plum galore, my parents give plums away to neighbors, friends and family, but they still have more plums than they know what to do with. And I turn to my cookbooks to find new ideas for plums. There are surprisingly few recipes out there that call specifically for plums. Not nearly as many as there are for strawberries, or peaches, or even cherries. Of course, you can often substitute plums for these other fruits, but I’m always surprised that more people don’t focus on the plum itself. Regardless of what new recipes I find each year, a staple in our family has become plum jam. It is simple and delicious, and you can make enough just for a week (as I’ve done here), or make more to can and save.
- 2 heaping cups plums, pitted and diced (approximately 15-20 medium sized plums)
- 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (approximately 1 large or 2 small lemons)
- 1/3 cup sugar (use 1/2 to 1 cup if your plums are especially tart, or if you like your jam on the sweeter side…I used just 1/3 cup because I like my jam on the tart side)
Start by washing your plums. If you get your plums fresh, they will have a waxy white layer, or “bloom,” on them. The bloom shows how fresh the plums are, and how little they have been handled. It will come off easily if you rub the plums with your hands or a cloth as you wash them.
Next, I like to peel my plums for jam. This isn’t mandatory, but will give you a smoother jam with a beautiful color. Most plums peel easily. I like to use a small serrated knife to cut a slice into the plum, and then start peeling outward from where the skin has been sliced. If your plums are especially difficult to peel, I suggest blanching them in boiling water for 30-45 seconds, and then removing quickly to ice water. The peels should then come off easily.
Once your plums are peeled, “dice” them. “Dice” deserves quotation marks for two reasons. First, if you have ever tried to chop plums, especially peeled plums, you know it is difficult to get anything that resembles smooth, regular pieces. Most of the plum gets smashed or torn, or just starts to break apart. Second, you don’t need pretty slices or regular dices…you are making jam! It is all going to get cooked and stirred and mashed around anyways. So just break down your plums into smaller pieces as best as you can, and don’t worry how pretty it looks!
Once you are done peeling, it is all down hill! And it also a lot less messy!
Pour your diced plums into a medium sized sauce pan. Add the lemon and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn heat to medium-low, and cook stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes, or until the jam begins to thicken. Keep an eye on the pan and make sure the jam doesn’t burn! Once the jam is think enough for your liking, remove from heat and spoon into a jar. I strongly suggest trying at least one piece of toast with the jam while the jam is still warm! Once it has cooled, put a cap on and refrigerate for future use.