It's the end of August, which means that summer is on its way out and autumn is around the corner. It's time to start thinking about what's going to happen when all the lovely summer fruits that are so abundant in the farmers' markets are gone until next year. It's time to start preserving.
Once upon a time, households everywhere were boiling, canning, and preserving away at this time of year, filling the larders with fruits and vegetables to last through the winter. Now, well, we just go to the grocery store and buy stuff that someone else has canned and boiled and preserved for us.
But for Sugar High Friday #22, Delicious Days encourages everyone to preserve their own fruit. So that's exactly what I did. I pulled out my old falling apart copy of the American Woman's Cookbook circa 1953 and I read up on various preserving methods. I decided on jam. Then I went to the farmer's market and perused the fruits, finally purchasing several juicy plums. And then, I looked for ideas to spice up the basic plum jam with a little more flavor.
I ended up using the plum jam recipe from the American Woman Cookbook, and adapted by using spices as suggested by this peach spice jam recipe. I was a little nervous about knowing when the fruit was ready to stop cooking, but with the help of my candy/meat thermometer it wasn't too hard.
I managed to get a spoonful out of the pyrex cup I used to pour the jam in the jars while it was still warm and I thought it turned out very nice. It was definitely on the sweet side, but the spiciness of the cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg helps cut that sweetness and with some butter on toast or an English muffin, this should be great. The color also came out really pretty--a very dark pinky-purple red.
Here is the recipe I ended up using:
PLUM SPICE JAM:
1 quart plums
1 cup water
About 2 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Wash plums and remove stones. Put in pot, add water and cook until skins are tender. Add 2/3 cup sugar for each cup of plums. Add cinnamon stick, cardamom and nutmeg. Cook quickly until thick, stirring from the bottom frequently and adjusting heat as necessary to maintain an even boil.
While the mixture boils, mash fruit with a potato masher to achieve desired consistency. When the jam is thick and set (it should be about 221 degrees Fahrenheit and the color should be bright red), pour into clean hot jars and seal. Will keep in the fridge for a month, or the freezer for 6 months.
|Saturday, August 26, 2006|