In which we scamper around and make a sweet treat to share with our friends

Years ago, the incredibly productive Italian plum tree in the orchard keeled over from the weight of the fruit it carried.

"That's it," we thought.  "We've definitely lost that tree."

But it was late fall by then, we were all really busy scampering around getting ready for winter, and nobody got around to cutting up the plum tree for firewood.

And the next spring, it bloomed, and leafed out, and bore fruit again. 

And it has done, ever since.  

But now, when I go to pick plums off that tree, I have to bend down instead of reach up to get them.

The Miracle of the Reclining Plum Tree

This year, the Reclining Plum has gone into overdrive.  We've been eating plums fresh, chopped into the morning oatmeal, or just as a snack as we scamper around (it is early fall, you understand, and the scampering isn't nearly done yet).

But we can't leave most of the plums for the yellowjackets!

I have a better idea.

Rum-Plum-Cardamom Jam

I found a recipe that I liked, and then, as usual, veered off into the weeds when it actually came to making a batch.  The original is HERE.

Here's what I actually made:

Original recipe calls for lemon juice, but I think lime is a better flavor to mix with rum.

Quantities are all kind of approximate, because I used "the amount of plums in this bucket" rather than a specific weight or volume measure, and then adjusted the flavors to suit.

I started with approximately 10 pounds of raw, unpitted plums.

Italian plums are super-easy to pit: cut in half on the seam

I rough-chopped the plums and then tossed them into the big pot with about a half-cup of lime juice

discarded pits and imperfect bits of fruit get thrown into the chicken pen for hens to sort through

Simmer the chopped plums + lime juice in a big pot, stirring frequently

I ran the mixture through the blender for about 4 pulses per scoop to speed up the cooking time.  

Simmer until it smells amazing.  Then, add some flavorings!

My sense of smell (and taste) is notoriously bad this time of year because of my allergies,
so Santa Jim is my flavor advisor.

To the quantity of plums we started with, we added 

1.5 cups of dark rum
1 teaspoon of ginger
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1.5 teaspoon of cardamom
1 cup white sugar

In an earlier batch, I used golden rum, added more sugar, and included allspice in my flavorings.   Do what you like best, using the ingredients you have on hand.  Cloves, maybe?  More cinnamon?  

Plums have a lot of natural pectin, but I added 3 Tablespoons of powdered pectin (the equivalent of a single box)  just to be sure it firmed up nicely.

No matter how you flavor it, be sure to consult the Ball Blue Book when you can stuff, to make sure the timing and headspace measurements are correct and food-safe.

The Ball Book doesn't have a recipe for Plum-Rum-Cardamom Jam, so I followed the
canning directions for plain ol' plum jam.


Delicious--and pretty!

My 10 pounds of plums turned into 24 half-pint and 2 pint jars of jam, plus a little bit extra to spoon over oatmeal tomorrow morning...if we don't eat it all straight out of the bottom of the pot tonight.

(totally not kidding about eating it right out of the pot)

Plum-Rum-Cardamom Jam

  • Italian plums, washed and roughly chopped
  • lime juice, enough to cover the bottom of your pot with at least a half-inch of liquid 
  • rum (dark or light, to taste)
  • spices: cardamom, ginger, allspice, cloves, cinnamon (mix-and-match to suit yourself)
  • powdered pectin (optional)
Simmer the plums in lime juice until the fruit softens and purple juice begins to release.  Blend if desired.  

Return to a low heat, and add rum and spices to taste.  Add pectin at this point if you want.  Simmer while preparing your hot water bath canner with clean jars and warm lids.

Fill clean, warm jars with 1/4 inch headspace, cap and place in canner.  Bring canner water to a boil, and process for 15 minutes.  Remove from canner and allow to cool on the counter.

Share with your friends, or spread it on toast, scones, or each other.  Eat this indoors, unless you live where there are no yellowjackets.


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