Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Port in Every Plum Jam

A lot has happened in the last two weeks! Or is it now three? An earthquake followed by a tropical storm, days of power out, major flooding, and now, more rain. It felt like we lost a week with the storm---preparing for it and then getting back to normal. We were left relatively unscathed. I didn't have to kayak to my house, or get my belongings sucked down a river, or see months of tough farming that was just about to pay off get doused in the fires of flooding, like some friends did. The pond was overflowing, many roads were closed, and the neighborhood had a house burn down. Pumpkins bobbed in the nearby Hudson river, a sign of the fields lost to the flooding. We lost our power for only three days, and thankfully our generator kept the chest freezer, which was packed to the gills, nice and cold.

Our street, our stream.
While the power was out, I had a bunch of garden tomatoes waiting to be salsa. Thank goodness I had just finished 150 pounds of tomato sauce the two weeks before. There were also four pounds of black plums macerating in the fridge. And boy, did they macerate. They sat for five days! I was waiting for the storm to pass, then for the power to go back on, then finally, once we got the fridge on the generator, I opened it up to pull the plums. That day I made the jam. That night the power came back on. Figures. I do have a gas stove, so there was no worries there---it was just the lack of water that was stopping me, both for cleaning and canning. Ends up, I never had to go borrow water.

How are you doing? I hope that if you weathered the storm, that you didn't sustain too much damage!

Thank you, Coleman lamp.

A Port in Every Plum Jam

4 pounds of black plums, halved and pits removed
1 1/2 pounds of sugar

Combine and let macerate in a turned off fridge for a few days! Without the storm, I would've let them macerate a day or two in the fridge. But maceration is the boon of the preserver. It always buys you time. These firm plums probably stood up to the sugar bath better than most fruit, though.

Pull the plum mixture and put in your jamming pot. Add:

1 pound of sugar
2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Bring the mixture to a boil, and let it cook at a boil until it reaches the gel stage, or 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. This will take about twenty minutes from the time it starts to boil. When the gel stage has been reached, turn off the heat and add:

two hearty glugs of port wine
a few coarse grinds of fresh black pepper

Stir to combine. Ladle into hot jars and process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.

Cream cheese pastries.
These cream cheese wafers? cookies? pastries? are super easy to make. I used a 1/2 stick of butter and 6 ounces of cream cheese, pulsing them in the food processor with a quarter teaspoon of salt and a cup of flour, until they were thoroughly combined and looked like coarse gravel. Dumped into a bowl, you can then form the dough with a few kneads of your hands. Let the dough chill for an hour (or a few days, like I did). Roll and cut out circles. I egg washed and topped them with sesame seeds. Bake them for 8 to 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Make sure to let them cool well. If you eat them immediately they won't be quite as good---believe me! But do make sure to eat them up right within a day or two. They don't age well. This makes about twenty wafers.


  1. Those little pastries look so delectable. Yes indeedy, macerating fruit does buy you time. I seem to have an inbuilt sense of the last minute!

  2. Hey Jules it's Liz,
    These look yummy, but did you use flour? And can I macerate raspberries with my plums?

  3. Gloria - Me too!

    Liz - I'm a little rusty. Thanks for catching that! Just updated it. And I think raspberries would be a perfect addition! xoj

  4. glad you are safe, if a little soggy. i am sad to hear of all the losses, and of the bobbing pumpkins lost down the river, but the image (of the pumpkins) does make me laugh. and OH those little wafers...must make this weekend...

  5. I learned the joys of maceration this year really. I'm so glad to hear everything is good with you and your family. And, can I
    Just say... 150 lbs of tomato sauce? How big was your yield after cooking down (and did you use the VitaMix)? You are amazing!

  6. Pen and Paperie - You know, the pumpkins are really very cute bobbing in the water. I don't blame you laughing!

    R - Awww. Crazy yield. The Vitamix rules, but you know what? It's dead already! I have to call them up and find out what happens next. Grr!