02 August 2013

Making Low-Sugar Plum Jam

A girl I met picking plums last week said she likes to make plum syrup and plum jam.  
I'll spare you the story of how I ended up there picking plums to begin with, except to say that four adults were out under the trees picking plums for which we had no plan.  Does that seem crazy?  Not in our family.  When we know of food to be harvested, we go do it.  Then we wonder what we'll do with all the stuff we just brought home.
Thus we heard her ideas with some relief mixed with sparkling eyes as we thought, That's a really good idea.  Maybe we should have brought buckets instead of bowls like she did.
Thing is, sometimes we get home, even with a good idea in our heads, and run out of time to actually do that idea.  Especially when we get home only a few minutes before Sabbath sundown and there are twenty-four hours left before we will be doing any major kitchen work, and the day after that is the all-day air show and the day after that almost everybody goes back to work for the week.
Which leaves me. 

Me, with a pile of tiny but tasty plums, and only the internet available to teach me how to make plum jam.  Or syrup.  And I decide that since I made strawberry jam in the spring for the first time, plum jam can't be any harder than all that except for this being alone in the kitchen thing, and the these-things-all-have-pits thing.

Being cautious about acid levels in canning like I am, I read the pectin label and ended up confused:  should I use lemon juice, or not?  Perusing various plum jam recipes on the Ball Canning web site, I at length settled on this one, Jam Maker Plum Jam--Low Sugar.

I'm a little relieved to see today, after the fact, it really did tell me I could make this recipe and then use a water bath to can them.  (You can also use it fresh or freeze it--all of the preservation methods they recommend are found here.)  Because that's what I did the other day.  Anyway, I'll let you visit their links to get the recipe and more detailed instructions.

We all liked the result, with these observations:
  • Making the jam without blanching or peeling the plums gave it a tangy, slightly sour taste.
  • Making the jam with a generic recipe from the pectin bottle (which would have added some fruit juice concentrate to the mix instead of just sugar) might work well, since it would offset the slight sour a little more.
  • Making plum jam out of small plums with only one person on duty takes forever.  Enlist help next time.  The jam process was not nearly so long as the pitting process.

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