Since last year I have prepared the plum jam, but I have had to upload so many seasonal recipes that I have been postponing it. Since I was a child, just as it happened with cherries, I always kept a close relationship with its life cycle, for reasons that I will now tell you about; With cherries, my attraction to this fruit had an aesthetic reason, it always seemed to me that the beauty of cherries was difficult for human beings to emulate. In my early years of early childhood education (or whatever it was called then), they changed me from a nun school to go to private classes with a teacher who taught me to read (because I couldn’t read when I was seven); my father, who knew me well, attributed it to the fact that teaching at that school did not fit my learning style, and that must have been because when I started teaching with that recent graduate in Philosophy and Letters, I did not need more than a month to learn to read and, what was more meritorious, she was able at the same time to cry with the emotional stories of that endearing book called “Heart”. That young teacher, who returned to town for personal reasons, agreed after many requests from my parents to prepare a close friend and me for the future entrance exam for Bachillerato, which at the time was almost like a notary opposition. She was educated and very vocational and tried to transmit the knowledge to us in an experienced and experimental way, far removed from the rote teaching of the time and she was ahead of what today we would call “comprehensive or meaningful teaching”. I remember that when he explained to us the stars and the movements of rotation and translation of the earth, he would put the room in darkness and with the light of a large and a smaller candle, representing the sun and the moon, he would show us the phases of the moon and the movements of the sun on an orange that was supposedly the earth.
But perhaps it was in questions of biology that his pedagogical technique shone with its own light. We learned botany in its beautiful garden and those words such as the chlorophyll function, the germination of plants with the corolla, the stamens and the pistil … (concepts that until then sounded like heavenly music), now they seemed totally understandable and logical, and proper to the creation of an intelligent god. We used to teach in a tiny and uncomfortable room, but if the weather was nice we would go to the garden, of course without any pedagogical tool other than the plants and trees themselves; but the strength of his word was so powerful that we didn’t need anything else. In addition, we used other spaces for individual study, where inescapably we had to memorize the catechism and the rivers of Spain, which required that dreaded examination. I had been assigned the dining room of the house, which was in the back just facing the garden; I was a curious girl and as soon as they sent me to the study, I dedicated myself to all kinds of reflections on the objects in that room: a beautiful chef full of antiques; a tall glass fruit bowl with a wavy blue opaline plate, which looked like a gem to me, and some paintings of Arab warriors that I hated; but what he devoted the most time to was contemplating the changes in the crops of the orchard, especially the plums in the garden, the so-called “Japanese” with early, yellow and fleshy fruit (in Galician, it is called “mirabelle”) and the small greenish claudia. I was fascinated to see how from the autumn fall of the leaves, the criminal winter was rushing, which would turn it into a bare frozen and sad trunk, with which I identified by the cold of that room, the loneliness and the pain of having to recite the catechism. At last, spring came and was covered with bright green leaves, which predicted the flowering of May, where finally the thick tapestry of white flowers hid any vestige of that skeletal log of January. But then, horrendous fears awoke in me, that the frequent hurricane force winds of my people would destroy those precious white and aromatic flowers, which would give rise to the miraculous fertilization. However, the plum always resisted and ended up giving the desired fruit, to which we plunged the tooth when it was still green, despite how warned we were that a green plum was deadly of need, but its attraction was as strong as that Eva must have felt before the forbidden fruit.
This attraction to plums also came from the stories that our dear teacher told us, about the symbolism that this fruit had in the eastern countries, where they were considered the representation of strength and good fortune. According Carlos Soteras the fragrance of the plum blossom “comes from bitterness and cold”, vicissitudes that I well knew from the experience of the icy and windy Galician spring, where its trees struggled to achieve the desired pollination of its five-petal flowers that According to the Chinese legend of the aforementioned author, they refer to the five blessings of this fruit: longevity, prosperity, health, virtue and good living.
These stories created in me a special reverence for plums, which became disillusioned, when years later the desired fruit had nothing to do with the aroma and flavor of those Japanese plums or claudias. But life has to go on … and in the end I was satisfied with what there was and decided to make my mother’s recipe for plum jam. One of the pitfalls of this jam is the difficulty in obtaining a thick texture, since this fruit has little pectin and tends to come out quite liquid; problem that my mother solved with the juice of a lemon, and the bones of the plums or the apple peel that I extracted through a strainer. In my house, the plum candy was preferred to the jam, a sweet that was cut like the quince and was accompanied by that Galician cheese that “spreads”, typical of the months of January-February, which made a delicious dessert for drink on those winter nights while “firing a firm” on the last embers of the brazier. My mother’s trick to get such a compact texture was what I just mentioned, because both the stones and the apple peel are important sources of pectin. This sweet was one of my mother’s culinary trophies, and her secret was revealed only to people she considered true friends.
This jam is one of the best I know and when in pure winter then we had a toast generously smeared with the fragrant and delicious flavor of the summer plum, I always went back to those days of the “warm and long” summer of then.
I am going to offer you the recipe for only a kilo of plums that you can multiply by the measure you want:
1 k. claudian plums, or the closest thing
700 g. of sugar
the juice of a lemon
the skins, cut fat from 4 or 5 small apples, when more rustic the better to get a thicker jam
1. The first premise to make any good jam is to buy a tasty fruit, neither green nor old. Then, they are passed through the tap with plenty of water, the tails and bones are removed, they are drained and dried well with a kitchen paper, and immediately you cut them into four halves (I do not hair them if they are thin skinned); you add the sugar and stir everything well, to let them marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
2. After this time, you put them to cook, always taking the precaution of checking that the sugar is well dissolved. Don’t forget to add the lemon juice:
3. You have them boiling low for about 35 minutes, and if you want it to come out fine, you pass the arm of the minipimer:
4. Next, you add the peel of the apples or the bones of the plums that you can put in a mesh bag and cook it again for another 15 minutes:
5. After that time, take the peels and put them in a fine strainer or a Chinese one, and squeezing them with a spoon you try to extract all the meat:
6. What we have obtained from passing the apples through the strainer, squeezing well with a spoon, add it to the jam and boil it again for 5 or 7 minutes:
7. Look to see if it is ready by pouring a tablespoon of jam on a cold plate and if, when it cools, it does not slide down the plate, it will be ready to pack it:
8. When it is done, let it rest in the saucepan for 20 minutes without moving it at all. This is very important so that the fruit is distributed equally. TOhere you have it freshly made: wonderfully tasty, with an aroma that perfumes the room and that greenish-red color of the meat of claudias.
9. However, once you let them ripen for some time, the jam will ripen, and it will get this compact texture. I like that the jams show the fruit; thus in the one below, the pieces of the claudias are appreciated:
9. While it cools, prepare the cans. First you wash them with soapy water and dry them with kitchen paper, and then they go to a 150º oven for about 10 minutes:
10. After that time, you can start filling the jars with a saucepan. I show you pictures of the strawberry jam, because the procedure is identical:
11. It is advisable to put circles of kitchen paper on top to cover the mouths of the jars:
12. You close them tightly with the lids and, without further ado, they will keep for several years. I like to wrap the lids with a paper or a checkered cloth for pure aesthetics. Finally I put them in the pantry, or in any closet that does not have humidity.
And when the dark and melancholic winter evenings arrive, it is a good idea to prepare a toast of a good bread smeared with this jam, especially for people who suffer harsh and long winters, and you will have the sensation of the taste of summer, in addition to feel the saying of “Home, Sweet Home”.
BON APPÉTIT AND GOOD LUCK !!!!!!!!!!