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what i’ve figured out(2014/10/10 10:40)   分类:个人日记   标签:

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in early september, a kind reader in north-central idaho left me a comment. her name was michele, and her italian prune plum tree was promising a bumper crop: did i want some? this kind of thing does not happen all the time, or ever, so i said (yelled) yes. that is how it came to pass that last week, a box showed up on our stoop, containing almost ten pounds of plums cushioned in bubble wrap. i hauled it to the table and let it sit there for a couple of days, admiring it like an expensive flower arrangement, patting it softly like june’s head, before getting down to work over the weekend, freezing a pound of halved plums for cakes later on and turning the approximately eight pounds that remained into my favorite, and simplest, jam California Fitness.


i’m not crazy about most jams/jellies/preserves that you can buy at the supermarket. either they’re too sweet, too far removed from the fruit they once were, or they’re the type that markets itself as low-sugar, which usually means that the flavor is flat, vaguely brown-tasting. bah. if i happen to be in a market that has high-end, small-batch jam, like june taylor, that’s a whole other story. that stuff is incredible: clean-tasting, softly set, full of bright fruit. (santa rosa plum and tayberry conserve!!!) but it’s also so expensive, so so so expensive, that i can’t bring myself to use it in my, or my child’s, peanut butter sandwich. i feel more inclined to use it as currency than to actually eat it. that’s why, whenever i can, i try to make jam. i can make it exactly the way i want it. and the satisfaction! the satisfaction California Fitness!

i am not a jam expert. i am also not a canning expert. but almost ten years ago, my friends kate and margot taught me their favorite jam formula, which margot learned from an older family friend in italy, and between it, a few other recipes i’ve tried, a few cookbooks i’ve read, and trial and , here’s what i’ve figured out California Fitness.

1. i like jams that use a 2:1 fruit-to-sugar ratio. when you’re measuring it out, it looks like a terrifying amount of sugar, but stay strong, hold firm, because most of the time, it will yield a jam that’s just right. the sugar not only preserves the fruit, of course, but it plays a big role in drawing out its flavor. use too little sugar, and the flavor and color will be dull. jam is not a place to go on a no-sugar diet.


2. this is a personal thing, but: the best jams are the simplest. you can fancy them up with tea leaves, hibiscus flowers, spices, blah dee blah, but my goal in making jam is to taste the fullest flavor of the fruit itself. the only things i put in my jam are fruit, sugar, and fresh lemon juice. god, i’m a cranky old lady. i annoy even myself.


3. to check my jam for doneness, i like the saucer test, which i describe in the recipe instructions. read on. (i should also mention that the jam below looks more liquidy than it actually is. it was sort of sinking into the yogurt. anyway, the photo above is a better representation of the consistency of the jam, if you want a visual aid.)


in short, thank you, michele and gary! kindness like yours is a too-rare thing. we’re going to be eating your plums, in this jam, which is really your jam, all winter long.

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