Today’s task is to give jam making a try. If you haven’t done it before, I highly recommend starting with plums, specifically cherry plums. I don’t know if it’s just a California Bay Area thing, but they grow all over the place as landscape trees and the fruit usually falls to the ground and just makes a big smushy mess on the sidewalk. I won’t lie to you, the fruit itself isn’t all that spectacular. It’s not to say that I don’t usually eat a handful each spring, but I definitely wouldn’t pay for them. However since they grow so prolifically we can get them for free. In fact one grows just on the other side of our fence and the cherry plums fall right onto our lawn. It has become the task of our little boys over the years to pick them all up.
Last year Scott made about 14 jars worth of jam from them ( you can read all about it here) and we still have some left, but being that we had bowls upon bowls full on the counter, I decided to give my own jam making skills a run for it’s money and make a few jars myself. Making plum jam is easy, fail proof really. So if you are new to jam making, this is the one to start with. We have an entire season full of fruit to get ready for, so starting out the year with this easy jam will boost your jam making confidence.
I started by rinsing off a pot full of cherry plums and putting it over medium-high heat. I pressed down on them with our mash potato press to squish each cherry plum. Over the corse of 10 minutes or so, I pretty much had a smooshed liquid on my hands. I set the timer for 20 minutes and let it bubble away.
After 20 minutes, I strained the cherry plum mixture through a strainer into a new pot to get out the skins and seeds. I had to stir and press the mixture, with a heat proof spatula, through the seive to get liquid through. Copious amounts of liquid can come out of those cherry plums skins, so keep smooshing and stirring either until it all comes out or until you get tired.
Then I put this new pot onto the stove and let it come up to a boil. After it started boiling I turned the heat down to a healthy simmer and added 2 cups of sugar. If I were you, I’d start with 1 cup and taste it before adding any more. Cherry plums can range in sweetness as do your taste buds, so how much sugar (or honey) you add is variable.
Next, let it simmer away for about, 1.5 to 2 hours until it reaches a good jam like consistency. The beauty of plums is that they contain a natural pectin so you don’t have to add any extra. All you need to do is let it reduce down and it will automatically jell. Keep in mind that when you cool the jam down it will become firmer, so I recommend taking a little bit in a bowl and cooling it down in the fridge to check the consistancy if you think you are getting close.
When you have reached the perfect jamming point, pour into clean canning jars, cover and let cool. I’ll be keeping these in the fridge instead of canning them.
I hope you try this, it is easy, frugal, fun and a confidence booster!