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Plum, Raspberry and Rosemary Jam

Thursday, July 23, 2009
Plum Jam with Rasberry and Rosemary

Since few years ago, the process of making jam at home and canning fruit and vegetables in general was intimidating. I remember clearly when my aunt used to simmer her own jam in a huge steel pot, so big that today it wouldn’t even pass through the door of my tiny kitchen. Every year towards the end of the summer she would buy large crates of peaches, apricots and plums, and prepare tons of jars that would last until the following year. The whole process would take her at least two days and it always seemed an impossible task to me. Not to mention the fact that I had no clue on the proper procedures to sterilize the jars, and I was afraid that even if I would eventually be able to make the jam, it would be useless because then I would have to face bacteria and molds.
Until one day I had a sudden revelation: to make jam you don’t need to buy 40 pounds of fruit and a human-size pot is perfectly fine. To tell you the truth, it’s even better to make small batches at a time, because you’ll get better results. It’s almost the same enlightenment I had with egg fettuccine. If you think about it, it doesn’t take long to make them, but for years the memory of my grandma working half a day in the kitchen just to roll out the dough has held me back. Obviously, when you have three generations of relatives over for lunch, it becomes quite a project, but with two simple eggs, how difficult is that?

My first trial was an orange marmalade, English style, with the whole peel inside. Absolutely delicious. And it was love at first sight. The entire process is just wonderful, from choosing the right fruit at Saturdays’ Farmers’ Market to the aroma that spreads all over the house while jam is on the stove. It’s a sort of country idyll in the middle of city traffic. The only downside is that it’s addicting: I haven’t even finished canning one, that I’m already thinking of the next combination of fruit. As a result, I don’t know where to store the jars anymore, and sometimes I wake up thinking I’m Grandma Duck!!

I owe this recipe to Daniela Cuzzocrea from the cooking forum of La Cucina Italiana (CI); as usual she is full of great ideas. I've reduced a bit the amount of sugar, since in general I don't like jams that are too sweet and I always try to use no more than 30% of sugar on the fruit's total weight. In addition, I usually add the peel of a couple of green apples, that I eventually discard once the jam is set. Being rich in pectin, they serve as natural thickener. When the jam is cooking, if I see that after 20 or 30 minutes it's still too liquid, I simply drain the fruit and keep it on the side, while the juice in the pot keeps boiling until it reaches the desired thickness. Then I throw in the fruit one more time, stir well and it’s done. This way I’m able not to overcook the jam, maintaining some of the fruit color and texture.
Breakfast is safe one more time : )

Plum Jam
with Raspberry & Rosemary

red plums 1.5 kg
raspberries 600 gr.
sugar 700 gr.
lemons 2
green apples (only the peel) 3
rosemary a couple of sprigs

Wash the plums, pit them and cut in small pieces. Put them in a large bowl together with the raspberries, add sugar and lemon juice and stir well. Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, add apples' peel to the fruit, pour the mixture in a large pot and let it cook on a slow heat, skimming when needed, until jam reaches the desired thickness. Discard apples' peel, pour the jam in properly sterilized glass jars, cover with lids and let them boil in water for at least 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the jars cool in the same water to create the vacuum.
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