Thursday, July 15, 2010
Plum jam 2 ways
Please excuse my slow mid-week posting lately. For some, summer's a slower, more relaxed time. For us, summer's when life kicks up a notch in intensity--I'm focusing on the current children's work, prepping for four kids to move on to kindergarten, working on enrollment for next year, prepping for the new children, taking care of my own family, and constantly preparing food for storage for the winter. It's a whirlwind.
So imagine me one day this week with 6 children under 6--several using glue guns while they work on their boats; Lucy under my feet or on the counter beside me--processing 12 qts of plums which had to be dealt with immediately (i.e. a day ago; some were already rotting). Crazy!
(Wondering how to can with a 17-month-old? The best moments were these... Lucy sat on the counter beside me with a huge bowl of plums. Her job was to hand me each one so I could slice it with a knife and put it in the pot. That lasted a good while. When she tired of that, she moved on to the floor, where she used doled out small handfuls of catfood into the children's pots and pans and little dishes for a good long time. The resulting mess was well worth it. The less-fun moments involve a hot toddler in a hot sling while I twist my body away from the boiling jam on the stove as I stir...)
I never really trust myself with jam. I sometimes make it too runny, sometimes too hard. So I don't tend to experiment much, though I really dislike the high quantity of sugar used in most recipes. Since the tiny plums were new to me and I didn't know how to get out all those pits without way too much work, I read a ton of recipes looking for the perfect technique. I found one that said if you slit the plums, then cook them, the pits would rise to the surface and you could scoop them out. Perfect. So I made that for my first batch. Insanely sweet (equal parts fruit and sugar), but gorgeous--the longish boiling time resulted in a glowing jam that looks like marmalade (the one on the right). It would make great gifts.
Then I decided to try Pomona pectin. I have a strange aversion to adding pectin--it seems artificial, plus it's one more ingredient I have to buy. I generally use high-pectin fruits instead, or my own pectin, made from quince. But I'd heard such good things about Pomona, and it lets you use so much less sugar. Sure enough, it worked beautifully, setting up with a very short cook time (added bonus!). It looks completely different--more like a butter than a jam. I'll serve this one to the kids (they don't get the super sugary stuff from me; I'm mean like that!). I'll be using the Pomona again; I liked its ease.
12 1/2 pts of plum jam, stored. On to blueberries...