Sunday, September 14, 2008


In Woody Allen's latest, one of the characters is defined as one who goes through life knowing not what she wants but what she does not want. Increasingly, I know what I want - and it is what I have: the BQE, cats (feline and human), kind company for things like Woody Allen films and rain, local food, poetry, and, generally, this great, brief quest.

And what better way to quest on a surprisingly hot Sunday than to talk to my grandfather for an hour (more kind company), then go into a predictably steaming kitchen and stain and cut the fingers on plums, for the sake of winter jam?

Today's Plum Jam

4 lbs. Red Jacket Orchard empress plums
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. lemon juice
2 c. sugar
1 package Pomona's Universal Pectin (citrus pectin activated by calcium instead of sugar, meaning jams can be made more naturally - Pomona's is available at The Brooklyn Kitchen.)
8 tsp. calcium water (requisite powder included with the pectin)

1. Heat but do not boil 9 1/2-pint Ball mason canning jars, their lids, and rims (jars also available at The Brooklyn Kitchen, other local kitchen shops, or online); turn down heat and let jars, lids, and rims stand in hot water.
2. Prepare calcium water according to package instructions.
3. Prepare plums: wash and dry; cut in half and remove pits; and cut each half into six pieces. Leave the skins on the plums - they break down nicely and add good color to the jam.
4. Put chopped plums into large pot with the water. Put lid on pot and bring to contents to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for ~10 minutes, until liquid has formed and plums are breaking down.
4. Meanwhile, put sugar into a bowl and add pectin powder. Combine well.
5. Add lemon juice to simmering plums, then stir in sugar/pectin mixture, combining well and bringing to a boil for 1-2 minutes.
6. Remote pot from heat, fill jars, wipe rims, seal, and process in hot water bath for five minutes. Remove jars and let cool. Jars are properly sealed if center of lids indent during cooling (popping sounds are music to the canner's ears!).

I've scoured a bunch of sites for canning information; Fresh Preserving (a site run by Jarden/Ball that belies the typical assumption that corporate sites are misleading) is really comprehensive, with a range of recipes for preserving (including non-canning methods like freezing and dehydrating), a thorough how-to section, and FAQs.

One of the best parts of all of this? It's earth to earth. The empress plums I used were grown just 300 miles away, in Geneva, New York (not too far from the Owego farmland of my forebears); I used the whole plums, minus pits, for jam that will last long beyond this summer; and the pits will go to compost, becoming soil for next year's gardens.

As this year's grows from everything that came before.


tiffanytomato said...

yum plums. yum jam.

Tanya said...

Mmm. Plum jam. Seems to be everywhere I look this time of year. How late into the fall do they grow around here?