This weekend was time to start picking our plums. We have two plum trees at the bottom of the lawn, and the first summer we lived here they produced buckets and buckets of tiny, sweet, floral little plums. I have no idea how old the trees are, or what the variety is, but they’re amazing, and they make phenomenal jam.
The second summer we were here, there was nothing on the plum trees. They flowered, and then — nothing. I did some research, and discovered that if fruit trees are allowed to overproduce one year, they often don’t produce at all the next year; it’s like they slip into a biennial cycle instead of an annual one. So this spring I thinned the fruit on the trees pretty thoroughly, and also did a lot of branch trimming at the end of winter. The plum crop this year is amazing – we picked about seven pounds on Saturday, which was enough for 19 half-pints of jam, and there’s still plenty more on the trees that need a few more days to ripen.
The first batch of jam we made yesterday was just plain plum jam, and it set up beautifully. For the second batch, I was out of pectin, so I asked Greg to go to the store. He picked up five boxes of no-sugar-needed pectin, thinking it said no-sugar-added pectin, which he assumed meant I could just add more sugar if I wanted. It actually means the pectin is prepared to make sugar-free jam, which isn’t what I would have picked. But as we read the instructions, we discovered that I could add sugar, artificial sweeteners, or honey – and that’s when the lightbulb went off.
So the second batch of jam was plum jam with honey, and it’s unbelievable. It has the tartness of the plums, with their hint of vanilla and something floral, and then the amazing depth and richness of the honey, with more floral notes. This might be most complex jam I’ve ever tasted, and I love it. So I see a LOT of jam experimenting ahead of me – what about plum raspberry jam with honey? Or grapefruit marmalade with honey? (I don’t know if that would work, since I don’t put pectin in marmalade, but doesn’t it sound amazing?) I don’t think you can really tell in this picture, but the jam is a lot less red than it looks – it’s actually a vibrant, almost neon pinkish-orangeish-purple. Magenta? Unbelievable.