I bought a small container of late season yellow plums at the market the other day. The vendor called them Yellow Damsons and warned me that their tartness is best tamed by cooking with sugar. Plum is one of the easiest fruit to deal with in jam making with its abundance of pectin. I bought a bunch without even a second thought.
My quest for the elusive damson plums has been handsomely rewarded this year. Both batches of jam have the deep flavour reminiscent of prune and wine. Of course the hassle of extracting the stones from my food mill was not exactly enjoyable but then the hard work is all behind me now. When I looked at my fresh basket of round little yellow plums, I was not looking forward to the work.
Before I rolled up my sleeves, I examined my bounty a little more closely. Each plum looked like an oversize cherry. The skin was smooth and taunt. I cut one in half and was surprised by the semi-clingstone. True damsons are clingstones. The plum was tart as expected but the flavour was vibrant. Since my container was rather small, I decided to stone the plums by hand.
The more I thought about it, the less likely the plums are yellow damsons as the vendor claimed. Internet search came up with nothing. But hey, plums are plums and jam is jam. I made a small batch of conserve by first macerating the cut fruit in sugar and lemon juice overnight to extract the juice. The next day, I cooked it to setting point and then stirred in chopped almonds and Amaretto to make four 250mL jars of conserve. The flavour was bright, without the hint of dried fruit that I expect from damson plums. The ratio I used is as follows:
- 950g cut fruit
- 500g sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 100g almond
- 3 tablespoons Amaretto
I would happily call my creation Yellow Damson Almond Conserve with Amaretto but I am doubtful. I dug a little deeper and it dawned on me that I probably had a basket of the coveted Mirabelle plums, a relative of damsons. I did not think it is cultivated in North America but I suppose a local farmer probably planted a couple of trees in his yard. That would explain the limited number of baskets at the market. Whatever I call it, I am still very happy with this small batch of preserve.
Do you have a clue of the identity of these mysterious plums? Curious mind wants to know.