There have been some really beautiful plums at the farmers markets recently:
Plums are one of my favorite fruits for jamming. They’re very forgiving if you’re trying to make jam without boxed pectin; while strawberry jam might be a real challenge to get to set properly, plums come out right almost all the time.
The purple plums are prune plums, from Green Uprising Farm. They’re incredibly sweet, with a darker, more elegant flavor than a lot of other plum varieties. I love them. I meant to make more jam but I ate almost all of them fresh. The yellowish pink plums in the picture are completely different; as the farmer said, they’re like mother nature’s version of sweet-tarts, not as ideal for fresh eating but epic for jam making. (That tart flavor in some fresh fruit is what makes for complex, well-rounded jam.).
I fancied up this batch with some rose geranium and green cardamom pods, even though it would be a great jam without the add-ins. The rose geranium plays up the floral notes in the more sour plums and the cardamom is a nice spice to put with the prune-plums.
I really love the flavor of the geranium. It might be a hair on the strong side, but I feel like it will be a surprising treat for a rainy November day. It’s interesting to see how those flavors mellow out over time, too – sometimes what tastes a touch strong 5 minutes after cooking will end up being just right in a few months.
Plum Jam with Rose Geranium
Like I mentioned above, you can easily omit the rose geranium and cardamom if you want to make a really nice, simple plum jam. The texture comes out smooth and lovely on this recipe, so it will be stellar either way.
makes: 6 1/2 half pint jars
cook time: well….. 24 hours, but it’s mostly macerating time in the fridge
- 6 c. prune plum halves*
- 2 c. sour plum slices**
- 5 c. sugar
- 1 oz. lemon juice
- 6 green cardamom pods
- 1 sprig of rose geranium (5 or 6 small leaves)
In a nonreactive container (a glass bowl, your jam pot, etc.) combine all of the ingredients. Gently stir everything to mix the plums and sugar together thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 24 hours.
The next day: Prepare boiling water canner, jars and lids. Transfer the macerated plums to your jam pot and cook on high heat for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the fruit is cooked and looking close to the consistency of a finished jam. Remove from the heat. Put half of the cooked jam through a food mill or sieve to remove the skins. (Discard the skins and put the plum puree back into the pot with the rest of the jam.)
Put the pot back on the stove and turn the heat to medium high. Cook until the jam gels, about another 20 minutes, (if I’m remembering correctly). I use the sheet test when I’m making jams like this, which you can see a graphic of here if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Ladle hot jam into hot clean jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Process for ten minutes, adjusting for altitude as needed.
*I decided midway through this that I might want to write it down and share the recipe, so I don’t have the weight for the original amount of plums! When I say “6 c. prune plum halves,” I mean that they’ve already been prepared by having the stems and pits removed. Just slice them in half, that’s all.
**Use any variety of plum that has a tart flavor here. Again, this is 2 c. of prepared plum slices with the pits already removed, not 2 c. of whole plums. Just to be super clear.