Comparing Jam Techniques

Here’s a tale of two jams.

IMG_2931Same recipe. Same plums. Do you notice the suprisingly different color? The jar on the left is dark, red, and deep in color. Before processing, the jar on the right was as yellow as the plums it was made from and tasted like freshly picked fruit.

After reading and comparing many recipes, I noticed that the technique in the River Cottage book was very different than most given instructions. The idea? First bring the fruit to a boil, then add the sugar. This seems to allow for a much shorter cooking time, resulting in a brighter jam. Related to trying to shorten the cooking time, he also suggests one stir the fruit infrequently. I’ve always been afraid of burning the bottom, but stirring cools the fruit and, again, lengthens the time it takes to set.

 My yellow plums are juicy and wet, so here are the proportions I used for the jam:

  • 2 pounds plums
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

After testing for set, I added a scraped vanilla bean.

For step by step instructions on plum jam, reference this how-to (which uses a slightly different process.)

I have heard many islanders recently make the joke that “plums are the new zucchini,” meaning they’re plentiful this year and hard to offload. If you’re also “plummeled” try:

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