I sometimes wonder what he would think of this wacky preserving-canning creature I’ve become. He died many years ago, when I was just out of college and still finding my way in the world. I started cooking as a teenager, so I’m sure I cooked for him at least a few times, back then I would have considered a stir-fry ambitious. Homemade jam? Pickles? Mustard? I don’t think it occurred to me that you could make those things, let alone that you should.
But: back to plums. Because they always remind me of my dad, I can’t seem to resist buying them when I see them at the farmer’s market. I always pick up a pound or two, often without any big plan: I just like to have a bowl on the counter. They make me smile. And while I’m not quite the fresh plum fanatic my dad was (I’m more of a nectarine girl, myself; it’s a texture thing) I do love the flavor; some of my favorite recipes incorporate plums.
This one is no exception. Glorious tart red and deep, deep purple Santa Rosa plums, just over a cup of sugar, and a nice fat piece of preserved lemon, rind, pulp and brine included. The lemon lends it’s funky, salty, fermented flavor to the tart-sweet plums and it’s all married together by just enough sugar to produce a loose set. It’s brilliant over a chèvre-smeared cracker and I can hardly wait to use it on post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches. My Dad, I suspect, would still prefer a fresh plum, but his little girl? Give her plum & preserved lemon every time.
- 3 lbs plums, pitted and quartered (I used 2 ½ lbs tart red plums and ½ lb Santa Rosa plums)
- 1 ¼ cup (10 oz) sugar (organic evaporated cane juice)
- ¼ cup lemon juice, fresh or bottled
- ⅓ of a preserved lemon, with pulp, finely chopped + 1 tsp lemon brine
- In a medium stockpot, combine plums, sugar, lemon juice & preserved lemon with brine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low, cover and simer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to macerate at least 4 hours or refrigerated, overnight.
- Prepare canner, jars and lids.
- Taste the fruit juice and make any adjustments in sugar or lemon. Transfer fruit to a large, wide preserving pot. Bring to a boil over low heat and continue to boil, stirring only to prevent sticking, until you reach a loose set, about 15 minutes. I cooked this jam as little as possible so as to keep the fresh fruit + lemon flavor. Ladle hot jam into hot jars to ¼-inch headspace, wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Yields about 5 ½ cups.
- If you have preserved Meyer lemons, I think those would be brilliant, adding a floral dimension to an already complex preserve. You may, however, want to add an extra tablespoon or two of regular lemon juice, to balance the sweetness of the Meyers.
- I like this preserve loose and fresh-tasting: of course, if you prefer a sweeter jam, you can add more sugar and will be able to achieve a firmer set without over-cooking the jam.
Canned, store in a cool dark spot for up to 1 year.
Summer into early Fall.