Sunday, March 22, 2009

Quick and Easy "No Recipe" Plum Jam

I bought 4 pounds of plums at the market 2 weeks ago. They were on sale for 25 cents a pound.

My husband just shook his head when he saw me come in with them.

"The kids are never going to eat those," he insisted.

No problem. I made them into jam. And the kids loved it so much they've gobbled it all up already!

The great thing about fruits and vegetables is that they tend to be cheapest when they're at their peak. So it pays to find ways to buy in bulk and save for future use.

Quick and Easy "No Recipe" Plum Jam


A couple of pounds of plums (I used 2 pounds last time)
a few cups of sugar (I used about 3 cups)
some fresh lemon juice (optional)
glass jars for storage

The traditional ratio of fruit to sugar in jam is 1:1. Equal weight or volume of sugar and fruit. For me, that' much too sweet, so I make mine with half sugar. 2 cups cooked fruit for each cup of sugar.

To make impromptu plum jam, just wash the fruit, cut it in to rough chunks and throw it into a pot...pits skins and all, and cook it over low heat with a splash of water, stirring occasionally.

Once the fruit is softened, eyeball the volume, and add about half as much sugar, along with a bit of lemon juice for tartness and pectin if you like (once again, including seeds if they slip in...they're a great source of pectin). Then just let it cook away, stirring occasionally.

When I thought the jam was probably ready, the skins had become soft, and the mixture had thickened, I took a spoonful and set it out in a dish to cool, to see if it was thick enough. The first time I did this, it was still a little runny, so I left it to cook a while longer. I could also have added more sugar to reduce the cooking time a little, but I prefer less sugar.

In total it took 3 or 4 hours. Meanwhile I was free to enjoy the day with my kids, just checking in on it briefly once in a while.

I always save glass jars when I finish with them, so I grabbed a few, and set them out on the counter.

When I decided my jam was ready, I took a couple of minutes and fished the pits out and let it cool down some. Then I poured it into the clean jars. As the jam cools, it contracts, and activates the seal on the lids to help preserve your efforts.

Sugar acts as a preservative. Because this jam has less sugar, it needs to be kept refrigerated, and won't last as long as more traditional jams.

I can't actually tell you how long, because my family always gobbles it all up on toast, or as a topping for yoghurt or ice cream WAY before it has a chance to spoil.

If you're feeling like adding a gourmet touch, you can also toss in a few cloves, or some almond slivers into your jam as its cooking, to give it a distinct flavour. Have fun with it, enjoy, and write to let me know what you tried.

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