Tiny beach plum jam

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I’ve moved! I’m no longer picking and jamming in the Finger Lakes of New York, but in Somerville, MA. I feel super lucky in my new neighborhood, because after only 9 days here, I’ve already made my first batch of local jam.

A really tiny batch of jam, not even filling an 8-ounce jar. But still. If you like jams with a good punch of tartness, this is the jam for you.

The plums themselves are tiny too–completely round and the size of marbles or Everlasting Gobstoppers. They’re beach plums, found up and down the northeast US near the sea. If you live in the UK or the northwest US, you may find similarly small cherry plums growing wild. I was exuberantly excited to find them here, because I’d once picked beach plums on Martha’s Vineyard and made 8 ounces of the best tart jam I can remember out of them.

These ones are on the unripe side–completely ripe ones will be dark purple–but that’s fine for jam. The beach plums are the small round plums in the pictures below.

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So even though it’s a little ridiculous to make such a small batch of jam, here’s how. It’ll set up very fast, because tart plums are full of pectin and because it’s such a small batch. Mine turned out a gorgeous ruby red color because all the plums I used were red.

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If you don’t have beach plums, use the tartest plums you can get.

A Tiny Batch of Tiny Plum Jam

Makes less than 8 ounces

Ingredients:
8 ounces small plums (unpitted)
1/4 cup water
About 1/2 cup sugar

1. Put a small plate in the freezer for later. Wash the plums and put them in a pot with the water. For beach plums, put them in whole. For larger plums, slice them into halves or quarters and remove the pits.

2. Simmer gently, covered, for about 15 minutes or until the plums are totally soft and their skin is wrinkled.

3. Turn off the heat, let the plums cool some, and then remove the pits. You can do this using a food mill, or by pressing the flesh/juice through a colander, but I found with a batch this small that it was easiest just to pick the pits out with my fingers. (Bonus: you feel like a kindergartener finger painting!)

4. Measure the amount of flesh/juice. I got 3/4 cup. Put it back into the pot.

5. For each cup of flesh/juice, add 3/4 cup sugar. So, if you get 3/4 cup flesh like I did, add 1/2 cup sugar.

6. Heat the jam until bubbles form (this won’t take much heat because it’s such a small volume). Cook, stirring, until the jam passes the wrinkle test when a small dab is put on the plate in the freezer.

7. Put the jam in a clean jar and store in the fridge.

Black raspberry freezer jam

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If you want as much deliciousness with as little effort as possible, freezer jam is the jam for you. I wasn’t even going to post about it, because I made in 15 minutes before a doctor’s appointment and didn’t bother to take pictures. But it was so good.

There’s no canning needed. You don’t even cook the fruit at all. You mash the berries in a measuring cup, and boil the pectin and sugar in a separate pot. Because you cook the pectin and not the fruit, the flavor is incredibly fresh, more like eating freshly picked berries than any other jam. It does need to be stored in the freezer, though.DSCN0930

I used Sure-Jell low- or no-sugar-needed pectin. If you use a different kind of pectin, make sure to get one that works for freezer jam. Then just follow the manufacturer’s instructions for raspberry freezer jam, scaling the recipe down to 2 cups of berries (or whatever amount you have).

Looking for more freezer jam? Serious Eats has some tasty-looking freezer jam recipes for slightly larger batches (about 5 cups).

Black or Red Raspberry Freezer Jam

Yields one 16-oz jar

Ingredients

2 cups black or red raspberries
3/4 cup sugar
12 grams (about 3 1/2 teaspoons) Sure-Jell low-or-no-sugar-needed pectin
1/4 cup water

Directions

1. Using the back of a large spoon, mash the berries in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.

2. Stir together 3/4 cup sugar and 12 grams pectin in a pot (dry). Add 1/4 cup water, then bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

3. Immediately stir the pectin mixture into the berries.

4. Pour into a clean freezing-friendly container (leave a bit of space at the top, because it will expand in the freezer). Let the jam sit at room temperature until it sets, refrigerate for 24 hours, and then freeze. If not frozen, it will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.