Plum Jam with Rose Geranium

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

Ingredients:

  • 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.

Fruit In Jars: Highlights from the July Cook it! 2012 Resolution

I’m so excited about these recipes from Julianne and Aimee, the rockstars who are still working hard on the Cook it! 2012 Resolutions with me, even during the busy summer months.

The July project was to preserve whole fruit in syrup.

Adventures of the Kitchen Ninja: Cherries in Wine: Julianne made these beautiful cherries canned in spiced red wine, which I am certain she’ll have no problem using up during the winter months.  Can you imagine the chocolate desserts you could make with these? They sound so good that even though I already pitted and canned about a trillion cherries this summer, I kind of want to go get some more…

Cherries in Wine, from Adventures of the Kitchen Ninja

Homemade Trade: Plums In Syrup with Rosemary: Aimee got her hands on some of these gorgeous plums and canned them whole, scented rosemary.

plums, from Homemade Trade

The plums on my trees here at the farm aren’t quite ripe yet, but I think next week I’ll be able to make this recipe.  I feel like once the temperature drops, I could definitely see some kind of roast venison or pork with a sauce made of the drippings, these rosemary canned plums, and a splash of cream.

(After weeks on end of 90-100 degree temperatures, I’ll admit that I’m fantasizing about cooler nights, shorter days, pumpkins and roasts.)

Beautiful recipes, as usual!

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Reminder: the August project is to make pickles. If you’ve got a great recipe you want to share, e-mail me the link to your blog post by September 20 and I’ll include it in the round-up.  My e-mail is thejamgirl@gmail.com.

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Chocolate Plum Jam

It is 108 degrees outside right now.

You know that feeling when you get into a hot car that’s been sitting in the sun? I feel like that, except there is no engine to start, no windows to roll down, and no air conditioning to turn on. I am just finding my zen place instead.  Existing inside of the hot car.

My brain feels funny.

The upside of all of this is that instead of doing any kind of work at all, I’m going to sit here on the computer and write a blog post instead, with what is potentially the most important jam recipe in the history of food preservation and the written word: Dark Chocolate Plum Jam.

But first, The Disclaimer: Chocolate is tricky in jam. Putting in too much will make the resulting sweet confection completely delicious but also completely not safe for water bath canning. I don’t know what amount is officially “too much” I’m not a food scientist, or any kind of scientist for that matter.  (This recipe has had several variations…*)

When it’s 108 outside, if you happen to be in a commercial kitchen, I recommend the following gel test: When you think the jam is ready, remove the pot from the heat.  Put a teaspoon full of jam on a plate. Go to the walk-in freezer. Stand in there holding the plate for two full minutes. You will feel amazing, and if you run your finger across the jam it wrinkles, you will know that it’s set.

Santa Rosa Plum Jam with Dark Chocolate

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Makes: I can’t remember. About 4 1/2 pint jars I think. It’s hot out though, and I wasn’t really planning to post this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 6 c. santa rosa plums, diced (or any plums, really)
  • 5 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. organic cocoa powder, sifted (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 2 tbs. lemon juice

Bring boiling water canner to a boil.  Make sure jars and lids are cleaned and sterilized (I do this for everything, even if it’s a jam that has a long enough processing time that you don’t really have to sterilize your jars… it makes me feel safe, like a warm fuzzy blanket). 

In a small bowl, combine cocoa powder and 1/2 c. sugar. Set aside. In a large, nonreactive pot, combine the plums, the remaining sugar and the lemon juice. Bring to a full rolling boil. Stir in the cocoa powder/sugar mixture. Cook until jam reaches 220 or so on a candy thermometer, or whatever your preferred gel test is if you’re not using a thermometer. (Technically, my jam only hit around 216 and still was completely set once it cooled). 

Pour hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4″ head space. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

I’ll have to add some pictures of the finished jam some other day as they seem to have escaped my camera.  Or you’ll have to just make it yourself and find out.

and just one more small thing . . .

While you’re at it, you can also slice plums and dip them in melted chocolate, set them on a cookie sheet on top of some wax paper, stick them in the fridge to harden, ending up with Chocolate-Covered Santa Rosa Plums, which are about a million times more delicious than chocolate covered strawberries. While they’re still warm you can also roll them in chopped hazelnuts if you like that kind of thing. Just so you know, while we’re on the subject of chocolatey plum ideas.

Oh, I just realized why plums are making me so happy today:

This is Just To Say

I have eaten

the plums

that were in 

the icebox

and which 

you were probably

saving

for breakfast

Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold

– William Carlos Williams

(My brain has been associating plums with cold since I first read that poem in 11th grade).

* The first version of this recipe used low-sugar pectin and 100% cacao dark chocolate, but I’ve edited it to make a more consistent final product. Cocoa powder makes it easier not to burn the chocolate, and getting rid of the commercial pectin results in that lovely jammy texture that we all love.