Monday, July 23, 2012

Wild Plum Jam

Sean and I were on one of our many  walks downtown when I noticed a bunch of pits on the ground as we crossed under some low growing tree branches. When I looked up, I saw the arching branches of a plum tree that was so loaded with fruit it was comical.

A few days later, I begged Sean to come back (with a bucket apiece) and we picked and picked. Actually, to be correct, "picked" is really not the word. "held our hands up and pulled bulging hand-fulls of fruit off" would be more realistic. In a very short time, we'd filled our containers. I was happy as a clam. 

I got home, washed the fruit and froze most of it. I played around with the remaining and came to realize that the tiny fruits were impossible to pit. Drag.
Too big for a cherry pitter, to small for a knife.
I threw 2 cups of fruit in a sauce pan with a little water and boiled it for a while. Man, the ruby-red color of these plums was amazing. As I'd anticipated, soon the fruit and skins dissolved and left the pits clean and floating in the mass. A trip through a fry-basket (think strainer with 1/4 inch holes) was enough to trap the pits and let everything else slide through. I added some sugar (about a 60 fruit/ 40 sugar ratio) and soon I had jam. Popped it in a jar and waited for it to cool to see what I had.

Amazing. There is so much natural pectin in the skins, I won't need to add any. This set up like those single serving size jams you get at restaurants.

Flying on my success, I dragged Sean back yesterday to pick more. We picked everything within arm's reach and that's going to be it till next summer.

The jam is amazing (to me). It's still blinkingly tart, but I love that. However I realize it's not for everyone. When I use the frozen plums I should combine them with another fruit to cut the sour factor. Peaches perhaps?

Throw all the fruit in the pot with a cup of water and boil

It turns to soup rather quickly

Ladle into the strainer/fry basket

Stir and scrape

Keep stirring

PITS!

Boil with the sugar till it thickens. It's not hard to tell when it's going to be jam. It will start to "spit"; bubbling up and making a mess, usually burning your forearm with molten liquid. I have the scars to prove it...

Fill jars, put in the water bath for 10 minutes and listen for the ping! of the lids sealing. Very satisfying.

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