Plums, plums and more plums

We harvested a couple hundred plums off the one little tree in our side yard yesterday. The kitchen smells fantastic. I refuse to let any of them go to waste, so I have a big project ahead of me. picked plumsAs my first order of business, I sorted them and put all the ones that were splitting or busted from falling from the tree in a separate container. I am making a batch of Chinese Plum Sauce with these. I’ll probably end up making some straight ahead plum jam at some point, but we don’t use many sweet spreads around my house, so I’ll start with the savory.
What I’m doing is using a recipe I found online for a plum jam and combining it with a Chinese Plum Sauce recipe that calls for a jar of plum preserves as its main flavor. The gist of it is that I’ll be cooking down the plums with sugar, water, vanilla and a little orange zest, then adding the savory elements. Here’s the official plum jam recipe:

1/2 c. sugar, 1/4 c. water, 1/2 vanilla bean, 5 plums and 2 t. orange peel – cook until thick & reduced to 3/4 cup

I had brown sugar, so that is the sugar I used – I just started with a box of it (4 c.) and enough water to dissolve the sugar when stirring. I brought this to a boil first, then added all the busted plums, skin and pit included. There were probably 35 or so plums, and I wasn’t going to worry about removing the pits – I’ll want to strain it later anyway to remove the skins, so I’ll strain out the pits at that point. These guys were way too ripe to mess around with cutting them up; I’d end up with plum juice all over the place, and I want it in the plum jam. I threw in a few shots of vanilla extract (I don’t want to “waste” a vanilla bean on this since it won’t be a sweet spread when I’m done with it) and brought it all to a simmer. I’ll add the orange peel a little further down the cooking process so that it doesn’t get all bitter from cooking for so long. Because the plums are so juicy and I’m doing such a large batch, the jam is going to take 2-3 hours of simmering to reach the desired thickness. This is a good example of using your eyes to cook rather than a specific recipe. Stir occasionally to make sure it isn’t sticking/burning and watch your heat (on my stove a good simmer can be maintained at med-low). This stuff splatters, so remove anything nearby that you don’t want plum juice on.

Ok, so this plum jam is *really* good. So good that I stopped before I got to the savory/Chinese part of the project. I didn’t even add the orange zest, but I’ll probably stir that in at some point. That first batch is going to be eaten and given away as is. I simmered the jam until I had about half as much in the pot as I’d started with, and it is a consistancy that looks good to me. It will thicken a bit as it cools. I didn’t strain out the skins after all – they completely softened and broke down during the simmering process. If I leave them in that will up the fiber content and make it better for us to eat, as well as add to the thickness of the final result. I just felt around for the pits when the jam was done (and cooled) and removed them by hand. I’ve got another batch on the stove cooking down tonight with which I’ll make the Chinese plum sauce. I’ve also got a batch of Buttermilk Cinnamon-Plum Sorbet/Ice Milk/Ice Cream stuff in the ice cream maker as I type. I’ll let you know how it turns out tomorrow.

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4 Comments »

  1. lauri said

    i can’t imagine why chris would ever LET you go back to work if you’re whipping up this kind of stuff. whew! and i can’t believe that you waited so long to start up a blog… i love it, love it, love it! xoxo

  2. Madeleine said

    Sounds wonderful! So, I must ask, if I just boil the plums as you write, do I have to process it like as in canning if I plan on using it as a sauce pretty quick? How long will it last in the fridge? Think I can freeze it?

    All I have right now is about 20 ripe plums from a friend’s tree and I won’t eat them in time (and she has more than I can pick!). I want to be able to do something with them so they don’t go bad!

  3. Hi Madeleine – you don’t have to process the plum jam at all other than cooking it as per the recipe. I still have some in my fridge (both the sweet jam and the Chinese jam) and they are both still ok to eat after almost a month. You can freeze it or can it if you want to save the jam for a long time, but with only 20 plums, you’ll blow through that batch quickly. Enjoy!

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