Remember the fable of the ant and the grasshopper? Should we “sing” all summer? Or should we be preparing for the colder months ahead? Summer is the time of sweet, sugary stone fruit… and what better way to capture summer’s bounty than preserving it with jams to last you through the long months of winter.
If you’re like me, you have always been intimidated at the prospect of making jams, simply because you didn’t know how. Of course, we have searched the internet for recipes, bought books, and timidly thought about asking advice from those who actually know how to make jams, because they have been doing it for years.
And I’m a lucky person! Because just recently a new friend came to my life, and this friend just so happens to be an expert in jams (among other things.) She casually wrote me an e-mail mentioning that she was making jams… Two minutes later, my reply was: teach me, please! Emails were exchanged in which I asked the most stupid questions (but, as she reminded me, we shouldn’t be afraid of stupid questions because it’s all part of the process.) In any case, a good friend answers even our most stupid questions, so she also gave me online assistance on the D-day! Or, as the French say, “le jour J” … Jam day, of course.
The result is what you see above… And I feel proud! Fruit chosen? Reine Claude plums, which remain green, even when ripe. This variety of plums was developed in France from a wild Asian plum, and named after Queen Claude. They can be extremely sweet when ripe, and they are considered the finest plums for confectionery. Of course, you can use any type of plum, or peaches, apricots, etc. You know what happened? In one weekend (OK, it was a particularly rainy weekend), my husband and kids ate two entire pots. And not the small pots you see in the first photos (those actually make fantastic party favors) but the full-size ones…
Jams for the winter? I’m already starting on the next batch. Enjoy!
To make stone fruit jams, you will need:
*1 kg of plums, peaches or nectarines, pick your stone fruit of choice
*750gr of sugar
*1tbsp of lemon juice
Optional: vanilla extract or a vanilla pod, cinnamon, ginger, a liqueur of your choice
1. Plums should be halved and stoned (don’t peel them)
2. Put them in a saucepan, together with the sugar and lemon juice. Stir well. Let it stand overnight.
3. Transfer to a large copper, stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high.
4. At this point, if you want a jam without pieces, use your hand-mixer to purée the plums.
5. Bring it to a boil again, then lower the heat to medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon. The mixture will boil and rise in volume.
6. Scoop off the pale yellow foam that forms at the top and discard.
7. Gently stir the jam frequently to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. After about 25 minutes begin testing the jam by placing a small amount on a cold plate. Allow to set 30 seconds and then run your finger through it to see what the cooled consistency will be. Boil for a few minutes longer if desired, for a thicker jam.
8. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars and seal leaving 1cm of head space. (Pots and lids should have been sterilized beforehand, boiling them in water 20 mins)
9. Wipe the rims of the jars clean before applying the lids. Put the pots in boiling water again (turn off heat) for 20 mins more.
NB: if you want to add vanilla extract, or a liqueur, do it once the jam is ready, and slightly cooled.
Makes 3 jars. Will keep for up to a year.
- Strawberry jam by My French Country Home
- David Lebovitz makes apricot jam in France
- Lovely French Raspberry tarts from the Cook’s Atelier