I haven’t had many Saturdays lately that were just Saturdays – days without real plans, made for puttering and experimenting and maybe daydreaming. Today, this Saturday, is pretty much all mine. I drove Keifel to work very early for a weekend, dropping him about 7:45am. It was too early to go to the market but silly to drive all the home so I popped into Provence on 21st. I’ve been disappointed the last few times I’ve been there, the service has been off or the floors have been really dirty. Things seem a little improved today and I got an almond croissant, my favorite, and a latte and scrolled through some social media while the other early birds flocked in.
By the time I got to the market, the day was in full swing. I got milk and fruit. There were some gorgeous eggplant but no one at my house will eat them but me and as much as I love it, I don’t want to eat leftover eggplant for three days. The Peach Truck is still going strong so I picked up a bag of peaches and traded dollars with a couple other farmers for some huge blackberries and some tiny red plums I had never seen before (I wish I had thought to take a picture…).
The house was still quiet when I got home, so I dragged out the laundry baskets and made some coffee and set about making a batch of plum jam. I bought Food in Jars last spring with grand dreams of making Christmas presents of jeweled summer fruit in jars after a Saturday spent making some iffy strawberry jam with Andrea. Since purchasing the book I have perused its pages many times and made exactly zero things from it. I have actually made (so much better) strawberry jam a couple times and some devilishly good pickled onions but nothing from the book. I even bought a Kuhn Rikon pan with a rack insert big enough for exactly one pint jar… still nothing from the book. With my bounty from the market laid before me on the counter, I was determined to make something. I settled on the recipe for Small Batch Mixed Stone Fruit Jam thinking the plums wouldn’t equal the three cups of chopped fruit required and I would need to throw in at least one of the peaches.
The plums were exactly three cups. I grated in the zest of one lemon, pouring its juice in after and sifted the desiccated vanilla bean pods out of my jar of vanilla sugar (Ms McClellan had suggested adding a vanilla bean) and topping it up to two cups from the sugar canister. The sugared, lemoned plums hung out in the fridge while I started laundry, put the dishes away and had lunch with Julian (his breakfast). Then, on to serious jam making.
The recipe says the batch should be enough to fill three half-pint jars. Apparently I don’t have any half-pint jars. Apparently I have a whole box of wide-mouth pint jars (no idea), a couple small-mouth pints and two 1/4 pints. I set everything up best I could as I have not invested in a canning pot proper but use my pasta pot with a steamer in the bottom. This is not ideal as the pint jars are actually a little tall on the rack. The directions in the book are pretty spot on though it took a lot longer than I thought it would to reach the temperature suggested for a good set since there’s no added pectin. My batch made one full pint and one 1/4 pint of deeply purple jam. Of course I tasted the slick of jam left in the pan. I am always amazed at the natural spiciness of cooked plums. If it sets it’ll be wonderful.
As I typed the last line I heard the favorite sound of all home canners: the ping of a sealing jar.