Yellow plums, you shall remain in your full, sunny glory!
This past month, I’ve been cooking mostly the red plums, and any yellow ones that go in to the pot get stained by their red brethren. But I have seen a recipe for vanilla rhubarb jam and I think it shall do nicely with plums. We shall find out how it tastes and looks soon. The ones with stems look just like yellow cherries, so adorable. I didn’t even realize I’d used a yellow mug for the pits. How unconsciously artistic of me.
The recipe calls for a kilo of rhubarb and a kilo of sugar. I can’t do that, just can’t bring myself to use equal amounts of fruit and sugar. So, I took the stones out of all the yellow plums I had. They weighed in at 1.2 kg. After removing the outer fibrous layer of the rhubarb and cutting it up, I had less than half a kilo left. Together, I had 1.6 kg of fruit.
I put all of this in to a large enamel pot with two vanilla pods. Certain things are so very different in supermarkets here in England. The baking aisle, for one. A basic supermarket here has tremendous variety of spices and flavorings available – perhaps I never looked for them, but I don’t remember Price Chopper or Hannafords in NY as having vanilla beans. Here, not only are they in stock, but they are not that expensive. Two beans for about four dollars. Speaking of variety, just look at what sugar options are available on the shelves:
Icing sugar, Fondant Icing sugar, Royal Icing sugar, Jam sugar, Preserving sugar, Fruit sugar, Demerara sugar, Golden Granulated sugar, Golden Caster sugar, Brown Muscovado sugar, Light Muscovado sugar, Brown sugar, Light Brown sugar, Caster Baking sugar, Granulated sugar, Coconut sugar and agave syrup, and then they have all sorts of diabetic sugars and sugar mixed half-and-half with stevia that aren’t in the picture. Egads, what a lot of types of sweeteners! There could be an interesting cultural observation brewing here, but I shan’t quite formulate it just now.
Back to the project at hand, I don’t “do” white sugar any more, haven’t for years, so while I am intrigued by “jam sugar” and the other options, I usually go for honey, or the coconut sugar. The jam sugar has pectin in it, and requires a certain amount of sugar-to-fruit ratio for its use.
At home in New York I used a special type of pectin that could be used in low-sugar recipes. Normal pectin does require a high amount of sugar in the recipe. Actually, I almost never used pectin at all in my jam making, as I enjoy a bit of syrup liquidity rather than a jammy consistency through and through. The two jams I make most often are strawberry (my mother’s favorite) and apricot (my fave by far). I also started making wild River grape jam a few years ago when I discovered the grapes down by the Hudson River. Wow, intense and wonderful flavor in that. But I found all of those to be quite good without pectin.
The plums and rhubarb and vanilla cooked for about ten minutes, and I let them sit overnight for the vanilla pods to steep and release their flavor. Also, it was just late at night and I wanted to go to bed.
There was a fair bit of extra liquid, so I drained that off through some cheesecloth. The liquid later became some more cordial, and the solids I then cooked up with about 600g of honey for the jam.
Here’s the yellow plum and rhubarb jam. Very small batch, only these two jars to keep and a bit for the fridge. Not as golden at the original plums, but lovely, and hopefully it shall taste good too. On verra.