August plum jam

I am so pleased that cooler weather is here. Today the rain is bucketing down again in Rome, but I have no complaints after the long, dry summer here. I am reading cookbooks and thinking what about what to cook. It was hard moving back in February, going into two months of lockdown in March, adapting to working from home and being worried about our mortgage and the pandemic. Now suddenly it feels like a shift in gears has kicked in, and life is more manageable. Which is nice. We had a couple small trips away this months (Arezzo, and Sperlonga) which really helped. More to follow on those.

Rome was very, very quiet this August. Empty streets, quiet nights, and more shops closed for longer. No wonder, after the months of lockdown and uncertainty. The border closures have been stressful for us, as for many. It’s been hard not going home this summer, but the fear of bringing contagion back to our parents remains. I miss the Norwegian summer and cool green forests, picking blueberries with family, and the odd spot of jam-making. Making this plum jam on a warm day in August was a sweaty but comforting small step to feel connected..

August Plum jam

2 kg yellow plums (with a few fresh apricots thrown in)
100 ml water
600 gr sugar
70 gr dry fruit pectin (a vintage sachet from 2012…)

This is pretty flexible as recipes go, it depends on the plums you have. I added some apricots that were lurking in the fridge, which gave the jam an even nicer golden hue.

Wash the plums, chop in two and remove the pits. This is easy if the plums are ripe. Otherwise, if the plums are a little hard, you can cook them and fish out the pits later. Use a wide saucepan if you have one. You will not need to add much water if the plums are soft. Cook the plums gently in a little water for 8-10 minutes, stirring now and then until the plums are cooked through and collapsed to be jam-like.

While the jam cooks, sterilize your jam jars. I do that in a saucepan with boiling water, jars and lids.

Add sugar and pectin to jam, and bring to the boil again until the sugar and pectin have dissolved. Then take jam off the heat and carefully fill the jars with jam, keeping the lip if the jar clean, and seal swiftly (this will all be quite hot). Set jars upside down to cool. Store jars cool and dark.

Plum compote with prosecco

Plums Rome is hot and humid these days, it is such odd weather. Laundry takes ages to dry, it is muggy and grey and still 22C. Normally it would be getting cool by now, and we would be fretting about the centralized condominio heating that only comes on November 15. Still time for that, I suppose. For now we are dressing for autumn and constantly peeling off layers as the days remain weirdly warm. But I am happy about autumn, and ready for crisp cool mornings. At least we do have the lovely orange pumpkin wedges and boxes of mushrooms now available. Soups and stews and risotto await, and more baking.

I was buying some zucchini and bell peppers today for a veggie curry tomorrow, and on the bargain shelf were these lovely Italian plums. Aha! I thought. Time for plommekompott, a Norwegian plum compote. So retro, so simple, and easy to make for tomorrow’s dessert. Might as well enjoy the plums before they vanish for the year, and this will counterbalance a curry nicely. Plum compote Plum compote with prosecco and cardamom
15-16 plums, washed and stoned and halved
90 grammes white sugar
100 ml prosecco, or water
3 cardamom pods
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of allspice (or other spices you like)

To thicken, optional:
2 tbs potato flour
4 tbs cold water

Cook the plums with prosecco or water. I had leftover prosecco, so I used that. Add sugar and spices, whatever combination you like, and cook gently until the plums are soft but still retain their shape. Ten minutes or so should be enough. You can stop here, if you wish, and serve the compote warm with a little cold cream or milk on the side.

I like my plommekompott served chilled the next day, and a little thicker, so I thickened this with potato flour. Stir together two tbs of potato flour with four tbs cold water. Take the compote off the heat (important), stir the potato flour/water mixture in and hey presto! It will thicken. Take out the cardamom pods now, or leave them in overnight for more flavour. Keep compote in fridge until ready to serve.

Notes: cornflour could be used for thickening as well; you would need to cook the cornflour a few minutes though, unlike potato flour which is stirred in to hot compote but foes not need cooking. The prosecco was just because we had some open, but water would be just fine as well. With friends visiting and others dropping by for drinks, there is often some alcohol lingering in the fridge. I cannot drink much, but I do enjoy cooking with a splash of wine.

I like my compote with a small splash of milk, just like my grandmother used to serve it. Yoghurt would be good too. You can omit spices, or use others, it is really up to what you like.

Plum jam with Amaretto, orange and vanilla

20130817-201728.jpgA bowl of Italian plums: do they not look just wonderful? However, you can only eat so many, so jam-making was on the agenda. This time, plum jam with Amaretto.

20130817-201736.jpgPreparatory work:  salvage these rock-hard remnants of vanilla sugar. I’d planned to use orange juice in the jam, so instead of using plain white sugar, I poured the fresh orange juice into this jar of vanilla sugar, as it was crystallized and impossible to use. This actually worked, after a couple hours of soaking and shaking. Much easier, of course, to use plain sugar.

20130817-201749.jpgPlum jam with Amaretto

700 grammes plums
100 grammes white sugar
Juice and zest of one orange
Two capfuls of Amaretto, about 3 tbs
Half a teaspoon vanilla extract

Chop up the pitted plums, no need to peel them. I let the fruit macerate for 20 minutes or. In a wide pot, boil plums, orange juice, orange zest and sugar. You can leave jam chunky, or blitz it slightly with an immersion blender. I did not add pectin, as it was a firm-ish jam, but that is up to you. Taste it to see how the flavours have developed (careful, jam will be hot).

20130817-201803.jpgStart with clean jars, boil them five-ten minutes. Fish jars out with tongs, let them dry (but not sit around too long). Ladle jam into jars (a funnel helps). Be careful to keep the rim of the jar clean. Put put the lid on the jar (using cloths if necessary to hold it, it will be hot), then turn it upside down and leave to cool upside down.
20130817-201819.jpgThe small batch done, very nice colour……

20130817-201826.jpg… and delicious the next day on barley rolls. As this jam is low in sugar, it is best to keep it in fridge once opened and eat soon.