Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Stone fruit jam with cardamom

Growing up, I remember small jars of rich red-colored jam sealed with paraffin wax nestled in our refrigerator door. My grandmother made pints of plum jam every year and shared the bounty with the family. At first the tree in her backyard provided all of the fruit she needed. After the tree withered away, she continued the tradition by hunting down that specific variety of plum. Sadly, the recipe passed away with her.

In her memory, I wanted to concoct a stone fruit jam of my own. While I vividly remember how her cheery, wax-topped jars looked, I barely recollect the flavor. So I am on my own... However a generous pile of plums, apricots, nectarines and one lone peach remained from a recent family BBQ. I squirreled these summer gems home and created this heavenly jam in hopes of beginning a jam tradition of my own

the recipe is my own

yields approximately 4 one pint jars.

The Ingredients:
10-12 assorted stone fruits (about 8 cups chopped)
I used about 6 small plums, 2 nectarines, 3 apricots, and 1 peach
1 stick of cinnamon, about 4"
2 black cardamom pods
6 green cardamom pods
6 whole cloves
6 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

The Process:
Wash and rinse the fruit thoroughly. Do not soak. Remove stems and pits from the fruit and dice. Measure into large saucepan. Add sugar, lemon juice and whole spices.

Over medium high heat, bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Continue to boil until mixture thickens and the temperature reaches 220 on a candy thermometer. Test the jam's consistency by spooning a little onto a cold saucer and chill for a few minutes in the fridge. If adequately set it should wrinkle and feel firm.

Remove saucepan from heat and skim off any foam. Remove cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and cloves. Fill sterile jars with jam, leaving 1/4-inch head-space. Gently stir to remove air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars clean and top with lids, screwing them finger tight (not TOO tight). Submerge filled jars in a water bath of boiling water and boil for 5-7 minutes (process times may vary by elevation).

Remove from water bath and allow to cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours.

If properly processed the jam will remain good for several months, though the flavor will diminish after a year.

The Review:
The spicy aroma that filled my kitchen as the jam bubbled on the stove top was absolutely divine! The warm spices of cinnamon, cardamom and clove turned out to be the perfect flavor compliment. I could barely wait until the next day to try the jam on a batch of freshly baked biscuits. Pure heaven for breakfast! I had to restrain myself from eating the jam straight from the jar.

The stone fruit jam gelled up much better than my first peach jam attempt. While I prefer my jams and jellies slightly soft and soupy, those preferring a more solid spread may want to add pectin to their saucepans full of fruit.

This jam may not be grandma's, but I'm sure she would approve. And now I have four rosy jars of summer to see me through our cold, snowy winters.

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