Last year's strawberry jam was a tremendous success, and it helped me put into practice two things I had always known, or suspected anyway, in theory - that making jam at home is not difficult, and that jam made at home can taste vastly superior to that bought in a store.
Ever since the local strawberries started appearing in the markets in spring this year, I had been on the lookout for finding the ones that were just perfect to make a new batch of jam, but without much luck. They were ok enough to eat out of hand, but falling short of last year's loot. While I kept saying 'meh' to the ones I tasted, stone fruits started rolling in, in the last few weeks, and as I made a mental note that the pluots seemed really good this time around, I had a why-didn't-I think-of-this-before moment. It struck me that rather than wait for good strawberries to make jam I could turn some of these excellent, sweet as candy pluots into jam!
Once the idea was established, I started looking for dependable pluot jam recipes that did not use commercial pectin, and found nearly none. I am guessing it could be because even though pluots have been around and easily available for several years now, there are many people who are not familiar with it. Neither does the Webster dictionary define it yet, nor does the blogger spell checker recognize the word!
Pluots are a complex cross hybrid between a plum and an apricot, and can run the gamut from the more 'plumy' ones to the more 'apricoty' ones in taste, color, and texture. Why not 'aprium' then, you might ask. Well, that exists too, depending on the percentages of the two fruits in the resulting hybrid. The fruits I chose were primarily based on taste, but their gorgeous pink color (don't have a picture of the sliced fruit) added to the charm too.
With the lack of recipes, I went completely on my own, but with fruit, sugar, a little acid, and some common sense, I managed quite well. The result is the perfect example of the fact that if you start with good fruits, you can make some great jam.
2 lb pluots (about 12-14)
1.5 cups sugar (or a little less)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Place three small plates in a freezer. On a flat surface near the cooking stove lay out a clean dish towel.
Bring a large wide pot of water to boil. Add in the pluots gently, and after 1 minute, take them out with a slotted spoon, and place on the dish towel. When they are cool to touch, peel them, and place the peeled pluots in a non-reactive bowl.
Remove the pits. Chop or gently mash all the fruits. Add the sugar and leave this for about half an hour, so that the sugar dissolves in the resulting juice.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, cook the pluots, sugar, and lemon juice together.
Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Stir often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F (105 degrees C), reducing the heat only slightly if it sticks to the bottom.
After about 10 minutes of boiling, place a spoonful of the jam onto one of the cold plates. Return to freezer for a minute. Run your finger through the jam on the plate. If it doesn't try to run back together (if you can make a line through it with your finger) it's ready. If not, repeat after a few minutes with another cold plate.
Let it cool a little, and then transfer to hot sterile jars. Refrigerate after it has completely cooled.
Even though I have not tested it, I think regular plums could be used just as well this way to make plum jam.
A slice of whole grain bread, pluot jam, and a mild Havarti cheese has been the current choice for a small snack. The jam also makes a perfect addition to the breakfast table, and goes to WBB: Summer.