Turns out, it really is a small world, after all. About three years ago (wow, has it really been that long?), I was thinking of starting a food blog. Knowing nothing about blogging, I was intrigued when I read on line that BlogHer would be hosting a food blog event in San Francisco. Maybe I could learn a few things to get me started on the right track.
Then I found out that one of my favorite food bloggers, David Lebovitz, would be one of the speakers. I jokingly commented on his blog that maybe he could score me a ticket to the sold-out event. To my surprise, he emailed to let me know that although he didn't have any extra tickets, his friend Alanna Kellogg might. I reached out to Alanna on Twitter, and - long story short - I got a ticket. There's a point to this story, I swear.
Then, at some point during the 2-day event, I approached David to thank him for hooking me up with Alanna (and to ask him to pretty please sign my copy of his book). That's when David introduced me to his friend Elise Bauer, who - it turns out - lives in the Sacramento area. But that's not the point of this story. Stay with me.
And then, on the last night of the event, I attended an after-party hosted by Elise and a couple of her friends. Elise was kind enough to introduce me to a number of people, including Sacramento-area author and blogger, Hank Shaw. By the time I met Hank, my head was spinning from the day's events (or maybe from the margarita). Anyway, I didn't really get much of a chance to chat with Hank at the party, but I did look up his blog when I got home, and was immediately taken in by the smart writing and Hank's honest, direct food philosophy. No, that's not quite the point of this story, either. I have a tendency to ramble... as if you didn't already know that. Sooo...
Then I started reading Hank's blog on a pretty regular basis. I started daydreaming about living off the land and hunting my own meat and catching my own fish and foraging my own edibles. Fast forward to the present, when I am no closer to doing any of the first three. I am, however, hooked on urban foraging. And I owe it all to Hank and his blog for turning me on to foraging. Also to David, for introducing me to Alanna, who got me the BlogHer Food ticket, which allowed me to go to the event where I actually met David, who introduced me to Elise... who introduced me to Hank. Whew! See what I mean? Small world.
What does any of this have to do with Cherry Plum Jam? A lot, actually. Because if I hadn't met Hank, I might not have found his blog. And if I hadn't found his blog, my interest in foraging might not have been piqued. And if I hadn't developed an interest in foraging, I might never have discovered the plethora of fruit growing near my house, just begging to harvested: fig, plum, lemon, loquat, grapefruit...
and my neighbor's beautiful, deep-red tree that puts out bushels of sweet-tart, lilliputian plums that resemble plump cherries (hence the name).
My neighbor confided that her enormous cherry plum tree produced far too much fruit for her to eat each season. She was more than happy to share the wealth, since if left on the tree, the fruits would eventually fall to become a sticky mess on her front lawn. With some help from our girls, my husband and I were able to fill our little red wagon in no time.
Giddy at the prospect of a seemingly endless supply of cherry plums, I got a little carried away. As usual. What to do with so much fruit? Give them away to grateful neighbors, pop them one after another into your mouth... and make jam.
Cherry Plum Jam
This jam is a bit on the tart side, which is exactly how I like it. Feel free to add up to an additional cup of sugar if you prefer a sweeter jam. The recipe calls for whole cherry plums because, well, my cherry pitter was broken and the two stores I checked were sold out. If you own a working pitter, use it before Step 2 and omit Step 3.
Use organic whenever possible.
10 cups whole cherry plums
6 cups sugar
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1. Prepare a boiling water canner that is tall enough to ensure you have at least 2" of water covering the top of your jars, plus space to allow for a hard boil without slopping over the rim.
2. Combine all ingredients in a large pot over medium-high heat, stirring and mashing the mixture until the sugar dissolves. (A potato masher works well for this.)
3. Turn off heat. Place a sieve over a large bowl. Carefully pour the hot mixture through the sieve, pressing on the solids. Set pot aside. Remove pits, reserving any fruit and skins left in the sieve. Add reserved fruit mash to strained mixture. NOTE: if you're lucky enough to own a food mill, simply run the mixture through the mill.
3. Return the fruit mixture to the pot. Bring slowly to a boil, then cook rapidly to gelling point. Stir frequently as the jam thickens to prevent sticking or burning.
4. Remove from heat. Ladle hot jam into clean, hot jars.
5. Process jars in a boiling water canner (212°F / 100°C) for fifteen minutes. Remove jars immediately and set upright on a clean towel or wooden surface, away from drafts. Let jars sit undisturbed for 12 hours. Carefully remove metal bands (Ball/Kerr) or clips (Weck). Check for proper seals. Label the jars and store in a cool, dry place for up to a year.
Yield: 7 to 8 half-pints.
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