I bought dodgy plums at the market on Wednesday; they looked good but were suspiciously soft to the touch. And although at Union Square market, even questionable plums are rarely at a discount, I got them anyway hoping it would force me to make jam. It protects the plums from rapacious children, and me from making tarte. It worked.
The plums sat undisturbed on the kitchen counter for a couple of days as I pondered how I might jazz up the plum jam. With a dash of alcohol perhaps, or some spice.
Then I read Oui Chef Steve’s Plum and Ginger jam and my attention wandered over to a permanent squatter of the second right hand shelf in my kitchen – candied ginger. The decision seemed to make itself.
I am told I will have to keep the jars for at least a few weeks before opening, since jam benefits from a little aging, but just from licking the spoon I think I can say – it tastes pretty great.
2 lbs (900 g) plums
2 3/4 cups (550g) sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
About 15 pieces of candied ginger
Wash plums, cut them in half and again into quarters. Take out the pits but reserve and count them, as they will be cooked with the jam then removed. (The French like to leave pits in jams and cakes as they believe it enhances the flavor – we can’t help it).
In a heavy saucepan, mix the plums as well as the pits, sugar, and lemon juice and slowly bring to a boil.
Cook over medium heat.
Add the candied ginger cut into small slices after 15 minutes.
After about 20-30 minutes, check whether the juice has “gelled.” To do this take out a small spoonful and let it cool. Once cold, the juice should have thickened in the spoon, and when you try to pour it the drip is not liquid but heavy, as though it was sticking to the spoon. Cook longer if necessary and check again.
Meanwhile, sterilize jars in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes.
As soon as the jam has “gelled,” remove from the heat and scoop out the pits (if you have counted them you will know exactly how many need to be fished out). Then pour into sterilized jars and close tightly.
Resist opening the jars immediately, wait at least a few weeks.
The jam keeps well; once opened it should be stored in the refrigerator.