It was a dark and windy night, soon after the horizon overtakes the sun and the sky becomes gloomy with defeat. a lone fox sat underneath the apple tree. teeth shining from behind curled canine lips, head bobbing, bits of apple flesh released, falling to the ground.
A glass of wine in hand, a basket of plums on the counter. a can jam deadline looming. she lifted the glass to her lips, the movement of his jaw was hypnotizing and her eyes grew heavy.
The sky deepened until the only thing left was the glint of moving teeth. in seconds that too faded. her cue. she swirled the last sip of wine and stood up, chair scraping, to the sound of wood on wood.
4 pounds dark plums
3 bay leaves
10 black peppercorns
4 green cardamon pods
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 cup water
juice of one lemon
5 cups sugar
pint, 1/2 pint, or smaller mason jars
yield: approximately 4 pints
1. prepare jars and lids for hot water bath canning. let the unfilled jars boil for 10 minutes to sterilize. put 2 or 3 small plates in the freezer for testing set later.
2. pit and chop plums, place them in a non-reactive pot with 1/2 cup of water and lemon juice. heat on low, covered, until the skins soften all the way through – about 15 minutes. heating plums before the sugar is added will ensure soft skins and will aid against fruit floating in the finished jars.
3. as the plums are softening in the pot prepare the spices. break open the cardamom pods and take out the black seeds, discard the green shells. powder the cardamom seeds, peppercorns and fennel seeds in mortar & pestle. i cannot stress enough how important it is to buy whole spices and powder only when needed, they last so much longer and taste so much stronger.
4. when the plums have softened keep the heat on low and add the ground spices, bay leaves (please make sure they are not old and you can actually smell the sweet spice of bay – otherwise you might as well add a couple of post-it sheets) and the sugar. keep the heat on low until the sugar dissolves and then turn up the heat and bring to the boil.
5. boil until sufficient set is reached – about 15 minutes. to test the set add one teaspoon to a frozen plate and place plate in freezer for 30 seconds. slide your finger through the jam and if it wrinkles underneath even slightly the jam is set.
6. fill hot jars and hot water bath process for 5 minutes.