Tuesday, August 7, 2012
I bought these plums on a rainy day whim when there was a whole table full them marked $1 per quart, which was a steal of a deal that I just couldn't pass up. So with very little hesitation, I walked up to the table and handed over a few dollars for three rain-soaked quarts of tiny, ripe plums and asked asked the fellas working the stand why they were so inexpensive. One guy claimed that they just had a lot of that particular variety and needed to sell them. Then the other piped in and said, "Let's be real, it's about to pour down rain and we want to get out of here." I laughed and told them I didn't mind either way because I was going to make jam from the whole lot.
This recipe for plum jam is very simple (like most of the jams I prefer), but for a more spiced up version check out this post to see how I made my plum jam last year: Spiced Plum Jam with Vanilla Bean. I made that jam with Italian prune plums which are a freestone variety available later in the season.
Methley Plum Jam
yield, 4-5 half pints
I had never eaten a Methley plum before this impulse buy and while they taste great, they have one huge drawback. They are clingstone plums, which means that they are a pain in the butt to pit and when they are small, ripe and soft like the batch I had, they are nearly impossible to use without making a mess. So, I just got down to it with my hands. I tore the fruit in half over a large bowl and used my fingers to squeeze as much fruit from the pits as possible. It wasn't glamorous, but it worked just fine. If you are working with larger, less ripe plums you can cut them in quarters and pull the wedges of plum from the pits.
Update 8/8: Sean of Punk Domestics fame just informed me that you can cut clingstone plums (and probably other clingstone fruit) down to the pits, macerate them overnight (pits and all) in sugar (and spices if using) and the pits will loosen up on their own. Handy!
3 pounds Methley Plums or other small sugar plums
28 ounces sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (optional)
1 lemon, juice squeezed and rinds reserved.
1. Wash, pit, and chop the plums if necessary. Add them to a large bowl with the sugar, vanilla bean seeds and pod (if using), and lemon juice and squeezed rind. Stir to combine, cover and refrigerate over night or up to 2 days.
2. When you are ready to cook the jam, prepare 4 or 5 half pint jars by washing and sterilizing them.
Pour the jam mixture in to non-reactive pot and remove the lemon rind.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. As the jam comes to a boil, skim the foam that rises to the top of the pot and discard.
3. Raise the heat to high and boil for 15-25 minutes or until set, being careful not to let the bottom scorch. Begin checking the jam for doneness at about 15 minutes. I generally use the wrinkle test to check for doneness with this type of jam, but if you like numbers you can cook it to 220ºF. If you would prefer jam without skin, quickly transfer the cooked mixture to a mesh strainer and force as much as the jam through as possible, discard the skins and proceed with canning.
4. Remove the vanilla bean pod and save for another use, then pour the jam into sterilized jars, then process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.