It’s that time again. That anxiety-ridden, sleepless, sweaty time. That’s right. Jam exchange time.
My partner this year was Evan (Check out her blog! Aren’t those wedding cakes amazing?). She sent me a jar of champagne pomegranate jelly. It was delicious. And I was so impressed that she literally made jelly. I am terrified of making jelly. I’m not sure why. She also sent a perfect jar of strawberry-rhubarb jam. It is all gone gone gone, because it was so good. I didn’t even have a chance to take pictures of it because I was so busy shoveling it into my mouth.
To back up a little though, when the exchange rolled around I was hopeful. Maybe this year I wouldn’t ruin most of the jam I tried to make by entirely disregarding all of the warnings plastered on the Sure-Jel package that say not to mess with the pectin ratio. Maybe this year I wouldn’t include a note in her box of jam full of misspellings. Maybe this year I wouldn’t be crippled with the fear that I’d give my partner botulism. Yes. This year would be different.
I happened upon a giant pile of pluots (a plum/apricot hybrid) and some perfect-looking Italian plums at the local farmer’s market. I wanted to do something a little different with the pluots, so I found a recipe for a savory jam – something that seemed like it would be great with pork or maybe blobbed on crackers with some chevre. It turned out well, though at first bite it is a little… unexpected. Savory. Weird. I really hope Evan likes it! Oh jeeze. I shouldn’t think this hard about it. The harder I think about it, the more anxiety I feel.
The plum jam was rustic and lovely. I’m glad I made a bunch of jars of it. I used one at work to barter for Mexican food. Delia, (one of my favorite co-workers) and I are stuck in a cycle of good culinary deeds. She gives me a burrito, I give her cookies. She gives me homemade salsa, I give her a thank you note. She gives me a plate of chicken, I give her a jar of jam. You get the idea. Clearly I am the lucky one in this cycle. But I am proud of the plum jam! It was good enough to give Delia – a solid trade for her chicken, so I think it was also good enough to send to Evan.
Oh, and I took care of my control issues with pectin by leaving it out of the equation entirely. I left the skin on all of the fruit, which served the dual purpose of adding natural pectin to the jam and making the whole fruit-prep process a little easier.