Plum and Cardamom Preserves

July 20th, 2008  |  Published in All, Fantastic Fruits, Farming, Gardening, & Food Preservation, Most Popular, Plums, Preserves and Pickles, Weekend Projects  |  27 Comments

Plum and Cardamom Preserves

Plum and Cardamom Preserves

7 1/2 c. pitted, chopped plums (about 3-3.5 lbs)
6 c. sugar
1.5 c. water
1 t. + 1 t. ground cardamom

Makes ~3.5 pints

Sterilize 4 pint jars, lids, and rings according to your favorite method. (I heat the jars in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, and boil the lids and rings for 10 minutes in a saucepan)

Combine plums, sugar, water, and 1t. cardamom in a large, heavy pan or kettle. Bring to a rapid boil and skim off foam. Boil for ~20-25 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. After 25 minutes, check that the mixture is ready using one of the following methods. If not, boil until done, checking every 3-4 minutes.

You can check that the preserves are done in one of two ways:
1) using a candy thermometer, monitor the temperature of the mixture. Once it reaches 220 degrees, remove pot from the heat
2) the ‘wrinkle test’: while mixture is cooking, place a small plate in the freezer. Spoon a small amount of the mixture on the plate and refrigerate for 2 minutes. Push the mixture with your finger — if it wrinkles, then it’s ready; if it stays smooth and acts more like honey, continue to boil.

Once the mixture is ready, stir in remaining 1 t. cardamom, then ladle hot mixture into sterilized pint jars. Wipe rims with a wet paper towel, then place lids on jars and secure by screwing on rims finger-tight. Flip hot jar upside-down onto a clean kitchen towel and allow to cool. If any of the jars do not seal, process in a hot-water canning bath for 10 minutes, or place in the refrigerator and use within 1 month.


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This preserve came about thanks to one of my co-workers with a prolific plum tree in his backyard. He brought me about 4 lbs of delicious, ripe, and juicy black plums, which begged to be made into some sort of preserve or pickle… Thanks Scott! After perusing my many cookbooks, preserving guides, and pickling books, I decided to go with a spiced twist on one of the simplest recipes I came across.

The spice twist I added was cardamom. Cardamom is one of my favorite spices, and I happened to have a few teaspoons kicking around my spice cabinet from the last Daring Baker’s Challenge. Cardamom, though it is strong and pronounced, goes wonderfully with many things — blended into yogurt and water for a yogurt drink, with cranberries for cranberry sauce, with Indian curries, and of course, with fresh stone fruit — delicious!

Usually when making no-pectin preserves, you want to use a mixture of under-ripe and ripe fruit, as under-ripe fruit has a higher pectin content. Since I was using 90% ripe fruit here, I had to boil the mixture a bit longer to get it to the right consistency; in this way, preserve making is a bit of an art — since each piece of fruit is different — different ripeness, different peel-to-flesh ratio, different seed size, etc — there are no hard and fast rules for preserve making; you just sort of boil, test, boil, test until it’s ready… after one or two attempts, you’ll most certainly get the hang of it.

Some other interesting preserved plum recipes I came across were pickled plums in red wine (from Linda Zeidrich’s The Joy Of Pickling), plums in rum, and plum butter. Perhaps if I come into some more plums I’ll give these a try (especially the plums in rum — I’m a sucker for rhyming recipes!)

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