This year I am on a self-imposed hiatus for canning and preserving. As much as I love making jam, managing my out of control larder got on my nerves. Wasting good food and hard work just isn’t right. So rather than filling the shelves with more jars, I aim to clear them instead. For the most part, I have been very disciplined. In 2013, I only made bergamot marmalade, candied Seville orange peels, Meyer lemon curd, and my all time favourite minty strawberry jam. I scaled back drastically compared with my output from previous years.
Do I miss making jam? You bet. The harvest season kicks into high gear and I am certain I will not say no when the call of vanilla pear butter beckons. Last week I went to the farmers market with full intention to pick up a few late season peaches for snacking. I did not come home with peaches.
Out of the corner of my eyes, I spotted a few baskets of the elusive damson plums. If Northern Spy is the king of pie apples, then damson is the king of jam plums. The last time I saw this British delicacy was back in 2010, the first year I started making jam at home. Those precious few jars were some of my best works with a deep wine like flavour unique to the tart fruit. In the years since, I learn more about jam making and how to better deal with the pesky tiny clingstone plums. I brought home two overflowing baskets of damson plums and plenty of anticipation.
I followed the proportion from Blue Chair Fruit’s low-sugar recipe. However, to keep my sanity, I cooked the plums in a bit of water until they burst. I ran the pulp through a food mill with large holes and it effectively stoned all the plums with least amount of hassle. Due to the relatively low sugar content of this recipe (most damson jam recipes call for 1:1 fruit to sugar), the jam had a soft set and bright luxurious flavour not clouded from sugary sweetness.
I was very skeptical of the sugar to fruit proportion in this recipe and seriously worried that the jam would be too tart. A waste of my precious stash of damsons would surely make me cry. Thankfully, the jam turned out well. I opened a jar this morning and greedily covered a slice of multigrain bread with thick layer of glistening damson jam. It made me smile. Damson jam, you’re worth waiting for. I don’t mind coming out of my jam hiatus just for you. I only hope it will not be another three years before you grace my kitchen with your presence again.
Now, who wants to swap some jam with me? I’ll trade you with damson jam!