Gosh, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?
We’ve had a busy summer so far as Chez Izz. Most of it’s been the good kind of busy (though some has been the not-so-good kind), and blogging ended up taking a back seat to real life. Now that things have calmed down somewhat, I promise I’ll make up for my absence as best I can…
Of course, when I say we’ve had a busy summer, I’m speaking somewhat metaphorically, since it seems like this will be The Year That Summer Never Came.
Not that I’m complaining that much – a real Toronto summer usually means several weeks of the oppressively muggy, smoggy kind of heat that wilts everything in sight, me included. The only downside is that my beloved local produce is taking its sweet-ass time in making its annual appearance. Strawberries arrived nearly two weeks later than usual, the elusive wild blueberries have only just started appearing at the market, and my homegrown tomato plants remain stubbornly green despite the abundance of love, water and fertilizer that I shower upon them regularly.
That’s why I did a little jig of joy when I popped into the farmers’ market last week and was greeted by baskets of freshly picked yellow plums. We all know about my obsession with plum season before, right? I know I get stupidly excited by food in general, but plums tend to inspire a particular kind of glee in me (so does rhubarb, but that is soooooo last month at the moment).
Of course, there’s another benefit to our cool summer… since heating up the kitchen isn’t a huge concern, I had no qualms whatsoever about standing over the stove for the half hour it took to transform my golden bounty into a rich amber jam. It’s chock full of sweet-tangy plum flavour, accented with warm exotic spices. It’s the perfect match for a wedge of crumbly cheddar cheese and a crusty baguette.
It’s nice to know that even once plum season comes to an end, I’ll still be dancing that little jig of joy every time I open the fridge and am greeted by a jar of homemade plum jam.
This gorgeously golden jam makes the most of the little yellow plums that show up at the farmers’ market in the early summer.
- 1 pound ripe yellow plums
- 2 1/4 cups sugar (approximate)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cloves
- 6 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup water
- Put a ceramic saucer in the freezer. Pit the plums and cut into quarters.
- Measure out the fruit. For each cup of fruit, you’ll need 3/4 cup sugar (I ended up with 3 cups of chopped plums, so I used 2 1/4 cups of sugar for my batch of jam… but YMMV).
- In a large heavy pot with high sides, layer the plums and sugar. Add spices, lemon juice and water. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar has been completely dissolved. Continue simmering for about 10 minutes, or until plums are softened.
- Turn the heat to high and bring to a hard boil. Boil for about seven or eight minutes. After eight minutes, pull the saucer from the freezer and test for gelling using the saucer test – if the jam is not quite ready, continue boiling and test again after a minute or two, continuing until the desired consistency is achieved.
- Once the jam passes the test, take it off the heat and fish out all of the spices (nothing ruins a good jam like biting down on a whole clove, after all). Ladle the hot jam into sterilized jars. You can store the jam in the refrigerator for up to a month or, if longer storage is desired, you can also process the jars for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath and store for up to a year in a cool, dry place.