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plum crazy

You have no idea how much I’ve missed you, but I’ve missed you like crazy. These 14 weeks of dust and rubble, hammer and nail, paint and stone have drug along their path like a tired old tortoise at times. Forced to slow down and follow the tortoise – I was to learn there was no passing lane – I tried to cultivate patience and grow extra gratitude for the many kindnesses and the pretty views along the way. I had ample opportunity to practice releasing expectations of what my days might bring, and yet at times I would forget, and fail, and feel myself a disappointment. I thought I could post more along the way, but simply put, I couldn’t. I thought I could at least follow fellow-bloggers who I’ve grown so fond of. But not even that. Once or twice my forehead met the brick wall. But over and over again I was taught, let go, be gentle.

I know Life isn’t through with lessons on this score because, when all is said and done, I barely got a passing grade, and that only because my teacher kind of liked me.  {smile}

I’m back, for real this time. We have one new kitchen and two new bathrooms. Even the repairs to our little cabin ~ where we had a flood (of sorts) and a fair share of damage ~ is nearly done. The dust is swept, the windows are washed. The workmen and women have all gone on to other jobs, leaving behind a grateful (and humbled) heart.

I’ll be resuming my trips to Farmers’ Markets and will post the subsequent vegetable and fruit recipes on Wednesdays. I have new Spreenkles to share. Several new takes on pizzas. A chutney, a jam. A soup . a cake . a drink.  And at last I can catch up on some reading! For the next several weeks there will be a fairly steady stream here at Spree, and so far I see no lumbering tortoises on the horizon.

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We have a plum tree growing out back. The bugs love the leaves and make lace of them, and yet still a crop of plump plums is left for us late summer. Our dogs are plum crazy and love to forage for the fallen ones, though this makes them rather difficult to live with (if you catch my drift) so we always try to beat them to the punch.

Our plums aren’t quite ripe for the eating yet, but I’ve found many varieties at the market that are. Black-skinned, dusty iris or nearly magenta, insides pure gold to deep blushing pink. Have you tasted plucots, (or pluots) that hybrid between a plum and an apricot? You should. The produce man, with honey juices dripping from his knife,  sliced off a piece of his favorite for me. My basket soon was brimming with the colors of Monet’s garden, on their way to becoming jam, fragrant with ginger and warm spices.

Plum Plucot Jam with Ginger & Spices

fills approximately 2 pint jars – possibly 2½ – or 5 half-pint jars

  • a total of 4 pounds ripe plums & plucots* – pitted and diced
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons strained fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice

* Or use all plums if you like – a mix of varieties is nice, but a majority of black plums with deep scarlet flesh will make for the most beautifully colored jam

NOTE: If you prefer to make a freezer jam, you can ignore the canning steps and simply fill your jars with cooked jam, allow to cool, and then place in the freezer.

Sterilize the jars and keep them hot in the canning pot.  Place a small plate in the freezer (to be used for testing readiness of the cooked jam later.) Put the flat lids of the jars in a heatproof bowl and set aside.

Place the diced plums and plucots, along with sugar, in a wide 6- to 8-quart pot. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, then continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Pour the contents of the pot into a colander set over a large bowl and stir the fruit gently to release the juices into the bowl.

Pour the juices back into the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Stirring frequently, boil until the syrup is reduced and thick, 10 minutes or so more.

Return the fruit and any accumulated juices to the pot. Add the lime juice, ginger and spices and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer, stirring frequently, until a small dab of the jam spooned onto the cold plate and set in the freezer for a minute becomes somewhat firm. (It won’t have gelled.) Generally about 15 minutes of cooking time will do. Remove the pot from the heat.

Ladle boiling water from the canning pot into the heatproof bowl with lids. Using a jar lifter, pull the sterilized jars from the canning pot, carefully pouring the water from them back into the pot.  Place them upright on a folded towel.

Ladle the hot jam into the jars, leaving ¼-inch headroom at the top. Using a damp paper towel, wipe the rim of the jar, then place on the flat lid and ring and screw on only finger-tight. Now place the jars into the water bath, making sure to have the jars covered by at least one inch of water. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes to process. Lift the jars from the canner, placing them on a folded towel. Leave undisturbed for 12 hours.

After one hour check to make sure that the flat lid has sealed by pressing down on the center of it. If it can be pushed down, it hasn’t sealed – no harm done – but the jar should be refrigerated or frozen right away. Sealed jars of jam will store nicely on your pantry shelves for a year.

You might try a heaping spoonful atop crusty toasted bread & your favorite soft or creamy cheese {like goat!}. I can’t imagine you’d be sorry you did! 

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To print a copy of the recipe, click here.

~ ~ ~

And to my dear blogging friends – Over the next several days, I’ll be trying to catch up with at least your most recent posts. I’m sorry to have missed so much of your good work over these last weeks!

~

Adapted from Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff

36 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ahhh.. I’m first to post on this crisp white box.. Sooo glad to have you back and I think we all need to “let go and be gentle”. It’s impossible to reach every post every time for all we follow, but we do our best, don’t we? I am anguished because my canning equipment is left at the lake until another summer. Perhaps I should fetch it.. because then I could make this pretty jam:) The seasonings in this little pretty jar must taste like heaven on toast.. and with a little fluffy cream cheese.. love it!! xx Smidge

    August 26, 2012
    • Yes, we do our best. The thing I sometimes forget is that our best looks different in different light. I sure do appreciate that life teaches us what we need to know though!
      As for returning to the lake to retrieve your canning equipment, I don’t know Smidge, but about any reason you can dream up for another day on the lake sounds like a good one to me! xx (ps … I’m looking forward to trying your peachy jam!)

      August 26, 2012
  2. Wonderful flavors in this, Spree. Welcome back to the land of blogs.

    August 26, 2012
    • Thanks Sharyn…it feels sweet to be back!

      August 26, 2012
  3. Don #

    Glad to have you back Spree! Speaking for the rest of us, we’ve missed you.
    And for what it’s worth, realizing life has set forth a road for you to walk is to be many steps down that road. Much love, Don

    August 26, 2012
    • Don, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! And Much love back, from your sister spree!

      August 26, 2012
  4. So great to see you! And what loveliness here in words and pictures. Beautiful, deep summer on its way to fall richness. Ahh. So tasty.
    I keep thinking I should try one of those pluots, by the way. Sounds for sure like I should.

    August 26, 2012
    • You should, Ashley, yes! Pluots (I think I have the numbers about right) are 3 parts Plum, 1 part Apricot. Plucots are more like equal proportions. They’re both lovely!

      August 27, 2012
  5. Welcome back Spree! How do you like your new kitchens and baths? I know alot of sweat, blood and tears go into these projects. I think your new kitchen must have given you some new zest as this looks like some plum mazing jam. Love how beautiful it looks on your bread. Take care, BAM

    August 26, 2012
    • Bam, have to say, we love our new rooms, couldn’t be happier with them, so in the end of COURSE it’s all worth it. Love your turn of a phrase – yes, the jam is pretty plum-azing! 🙂 Thanks so much for the comment, and have a great day!

      August 27, 2012
  6. So happy to see your post in my inbox! I know the feeling all too well and there are moments in life we must relent… and slow our pace. Often I resist, but in the end it will have served me well. 🙂 We’re in the middle of replacing doors, remodeling the girls bathroom, building a chicken coop with little chicks to arrive soon and of course my clients and classes and a basket full of laundry in the laundry room. LOL! It never ends. Life is an adventure isn’t it? Can’t wait to see what you’ll be cooking up next. Love the plum jam!! Looks so delicious and over the goats cheese… yum!

    August 26, 2012
    • Haha! Sometimes I think life may be best when it’s a little crazy! 🙂 But sometimes crazy seems oblivious to limits and we just have to put our foot down, hard! 🙂 Enough already! (I guess those are the Calgon moments right? Just give me a long quiet soak in a hot tub and you’ll like me SO much better!) Best of luck with your remodel!! Girls rooms can be such fun!

      August 27, 2012
  7. I wish I came to your blog for the recipes, but I must tell you the truth: The photos are so delectable that I could almost lick my computer screen!

    August 26, 2012
    • Cyndi, I’ll try to remember to include napkins next time! (And whether you eat or just drool, I’m always happy when you show up!)

      August 27, 2012
  8. Those colors are so gorgeous! I made a cake with mixed plums a few weeks ago and was a little sad to have to bake it. (Until I got to eat it–then I felt better.) Congratulations on your improvements! I make plum-ginger jam every year, but I love the idea of adding cardamom…yum. You might be inspiring me to play around with the spices this year. 🙂

    August 26, 2012
    • Oh do play with the spices Emmy! Ginger is such a natural with plums, as you already know, but the others are so good too! And isn’t it true that the mix of plums adds something inexplicably delicious! I have to check out your cake!!

      August 27, 2012
  9. Welcome back, Spree! You’ve been missed. I bet your kitchen and baths look wonderful and it must have been a true relief to bid the work crew(s) good-bye. Your home is your own again with no strangers, no matter how friendly, walking about.
    This plum jam sounds delicious. What a way to make your return! The photo of the open jar has my mouth watering. It looks incredible, the mix of plum varieties adds so much to its appeal.

    August 26, 2012
    • It’s so good being back again! And yes, you’re so right, it was deliciously sweet saying goodbye to all the workers…even though I’d grown really fond of most of them, I probably wouldn’t have chosen them as roommates (no offense intended)! Every morning about 7 AM they’d start streaming in…it came to feel odd when someone actually knocked or rang the bell. 🙂 The dogs (who normally bark once or twice to let us know we have people passing by on the street) came to appreciate all the extra pats & coos about how sweet they were and didn’t make a sound when ‘strangers’ walked through our front door. Suddenly, everyone was a friend. (Dogs have more lessons to teach us two-leggeds!)
      I love cooking with plums John and this jam is one of our favorites! (Next slice of toast I have, I’m going to spread with goat cheese, sprinkle with fresh-cracked pepper and then plop on a dollop of this plum jam! YOU were the inspiration for that! 🙂 And I thank you!)

      August 27, 2012
  10. The pictures are very good. The produce is very good. The whole damn thing is very good. Very good to have you back.

    August 27, 2012
    • And very good & kind of you to say ~ thanks Roger!

      August 27, 2012
  11. Welcome back, I understand I am also going through a ‘slow’ phase. You cannot be everything to everyone including yourself …..all of the time 😉 x

    August 27, 2012
    • Why is it we have to learn the same lessons over and over again Lesley? (Well, actually I think I know, and I think you do too! 🙂 ) I’ll be heading over to your place today…I’ve so missed your lovely work…and sometimes what comes out of that ‘slow’ phase is especially rich. xx

      August 27, 2012
      • Hey I don’t know – it is what is called the ‘mystery’ of life I reckon, but we have to try and just go with ‘it’ the flow and not fight it!

        August 27, 2012
  12. Lovely to see you. and I totally understand what you have been through – but now you are done and dusted, literally. And as you say be gentle to yourself, I’ve been thinking on similar lines too!!
    and yeas for plum season, I’m getting them from local suppliers, all grown locally and the colours are jewel like aren’t they!

    August 27, 2012
    • Done and dusted! 🙂 Yes! Maybe we need a Gentling Support Group…to have friends at the ready who will gladly encourage us to be gentle on ourselves…even go so far as an ‘intervention’ when necessary! 🙂 Whatdya say? Charter members?
      And aren’t plums just the most amazing summer jewels to cook with?! Love them! And am so happy that so many of our local farmers are growing them!

      August 27, 2012
  13. Happy to have you back for your remodeling adventure. I know the end result for the kitchen was so nice…I’m sure the bathrooms are great as well. What a lovely colored plum jam. I love the lime and ginger that you added to it, it must taste great.

    August 27, 2012
    • Ahh thanks Karen! YOU better than most know all about this remodeling business! You’re either a glutton for punishment (doubt it! 🙂 ) or you’ve learned how to ride the stormy seas with equanimity! A role model for us all.
      And (no boast intended because it’s ALL about the plums & spices) this jam is mighty tasty!

      August 27, 2012
  14. Welcome home! Here’s to biscuits laden in jam and conversations over tea… it’s good to have you back.

    August 27, 2012
    • Merci beaucoup, Movita Beaucoup! So good to be home again!

      August 28, 2012
  15. deb #

    Ahh, such fun to see. I must try plucots and only wish I had the opportunity to make your jam.

    August 27, 2012
    • We’ll have to see what we can do to get you a jar! 🙂 xo

      August 28, 2012
  16. I like the fact that you combined all these aromas with prunes. It reminds me of a prune preserve I tasted that had cumin on it! It was very delicious! Good to have you back!

    August 30, 2012
  17. Welcome back! You have been missed my friend!
    I have to say that this lesson is one I never seem to learn..slow down, be gentle, stop expecting so much..and stop raising the bar to high..no matter how much I try, I think it is something hard wired in me lol
    I love the color of your wonderful jam, my mum makes a stone fruit jam this time of year with peaches, apricots, cherries and plums and the color is a few hues lighter than your jam but very similar.
    I need to pick up some plums and if I can find the time next week (we start third grade next week and we are worried about not finding our friends and not liking the new teacher) I will make this for sure

    August 31, 2012
    • Does it seem, Sawsan, that the lessons we are most in need of learning keep coming around again and again, giving us chance after chance to learn them? There seems such a grace in that!
      Your mother’s jam of stone fruits sounds wonderful! I love the mix! (I make a stone fruit crisp/crumble too, and it’s one of our favorite desserts of summer.)
      Oh those third grade jitters! How well I remember! Hope all started well Sawsan! A mother’s love and ear make such a difference, as your child has no doubt discovered!

      September 4, 2012
  18. carolyn #

    Finally, you’re back! With lessons learned and gorgeous jam jewels to share! my screen is well-licked, too. (don’t try it. doesn’t taste a bit plummy). Sure is good to see you back doing what you were born for!

    September 4, 2012

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