Plum and apricot refrigerator jam, or jam making for germaphobes

Plum and Apricot jam

I made my first ever batch of jam this weekend. Ok, it’s probably
an exaggeration to say a batch of jam, when the entire thing came out
to be just about 18oz, just enough to fill one antique Pyrex
refrigerator jar – newly acquired from a flea market (in the photo, cute or what?) – and a
small Weck jam jar.

I had not thought of making jams before. I’m a germaphobe so home
canning and preserving scare me half to death. I’m always afraid that
I’d end up killing my friends – or worse yet, myself – with an
improperly sterilized jar of jam or tomato sauce. It’s true that last summer I ventured to make a whole big batch of tomato confit, but those
of you who saw that post should remember how I fretted through the
entire process. The good news is I am down to my last jar of said
confit, and am so far unaware of anyone having died from it.

I was also forced into making that tomates confites because I
could not find anything like it to purchase, so I had to make it
myself. Jams, on the other hand, are plentiful to buy. I always keep
my pantry stocked with a variety of Christine Ferber’s and June Taylor’s delicious creations – not to mention a random assortment from my travels.

I was inspired to try this time when my friends Dave and Ally came
to visit with a bag full of plums from their tree. The plums were too
sour to eat, but they were so amazingly fragrant I just had to find
something to do with them. I also had a few sweet, sweet Frog Hollow
apricots in the case I bought from the market a few days ago. They
were softening quickly, and must be used up before they were too far
gone to salvage. Then an inspiration struck – jam! The deep red,
fragrant plums and bright orange, sweet apricots would make a very
pretty – and might even be delicious – batch of jam, I thought.

So out came a big pot and in went the fruit, the plums roughly cut into wedges and the apricots halved and pitted, all skin on, of course – I had no pectin nor a desire to go and buy any so I had to rely on nature to help me along. How much sugar did I need? How should I know? I went to my office to get the copy of Christine Ferber’s Mes Confitures and looked quickly through her various jams made from plums and apricots. Her golden ratio appears to be about 2:3 parts sugar to fruit. That seemed a bit much, so I began with 1:2, then added more as I went along. She also recommended juice from one small lemon. I had no lemon so a lime would have to do – what Thai girl doesn’t have a constant supply of limes in her fridge? Oh, yes, and old habits die hard so I also threw in a pinch or two of sea salt.

The jam was incredibly easy to make. I was astounded. There was no real recipe to go by, so I added enough sugar until it tasted just as sweet as I like, and cooked the jam until it reached the consistency I like. When the water evaporated just a bit too quickly for my fruit to breakdown to the texture I wanted, I added a bit of water and let it cook a bit more. It’s cooking by instinct, and mine is well honed for this from years of being obsessed with superb jams.

I was even more astounded when I tasted the final product. No more Goldilockean complaints – this jam is too sweet, this one too sour, that one too loose – as this jam was perfect. Incredibly fragrant, bright, orange-tinted red, at once sharp and sweet, with a great, complex flavor magically enhanced by that pinch of salt. Ok, not exactly perfect in the Platonian sense of the word, but perfect as in…that’s the way…ah-ha, ah-ha…I like it…ah-ha, ah-ha.

The germaphobe in me doesn’t have to worry about sterilizing the jars and the tops and the pot and the funnel and the whatnots, as this batch of jam is going directly into the refrigerator and shall reside there until it is finished. The small batch will also ensure that it will all be gone in not too far a future. Refrigerator jams, just the perfect thing for a germaphobe – who wants to make her own jams – like me.

What to do when I want plum jam in the winter? I see Mme.Ferber and my dear June coming to my rescue.

Plum and apricot ‘refrigerator’ jam – a rough recipe

2.5 pounds (just a bit over 1kilo) of apricots and plums
2 cups (16oz or 450g of sugar), add more as needed
about half cup of sugar
juice from 1 small lime (or lemon)
a pinch of salt -“ or two, or none at all, comme vous voulez

Into a large pot, cut the plums into wedges around the pit, halve the apricots and discard the pits. Add the juice from one lime or lemon, 2 cups of sugar, and a pinch of salt.

Turn the heat on low to melt the sugar and bring the content of the pot into a low simmer. Spoon off the foam that forms on top. With a wooden spoon, stir the pot frequently but gently so as not to turn the fruit into mush.

Taste the jam as you go along, adding more sugar if you think you need. Add a bit of water if the content of the pot evaporates too quickly and the fruit hasn’t broken down to the texture that you like. Stop when everything is….just the way, ah-ha ah-ha, I like it, ah-ha ah-ha...yeah, sing it baby!

You shouldn’t need more than an hour to do this.

Pour the jam into clean jars, put a piece of paper towel across the top. Let cool to room temperature, discard the paper then put the jar top on and refrigerate.

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  • http://cuisinezenwg.canalblog.com/ Lisanka

    mmmmhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

  • http://saffronandblueberry.blogspot.com Hilda

    Oh I love this recipe-style because that’s often how I cook, which makes writing down a recipe with quantities a little difficult sometimes. The jam sounds delicious and perfect for a fellow germaphobe like me. =)

  • Hmm

    Killing yourself would be worse than killing your friends?

  • onhazier

    Plum Apricot jam is one of my favorites to make. Next time, you’ll find your fruit cooks down faster if you cut it into smaller chunks. I usually quarter each apricot half before cooking.
    You might also want to give Ginger Peach jam a try. For the peach jam, you’ll want to consider using a box of pectin. To a basic peach jam recipe, I peel and finely grate a piece of fresh ginger about the size of a man’s thumb. Grate the ginger directly into the cooking peaches. I tried this for the first time last year and my friends loved it.
    If you don’t cook your jam enough to have it set properly, call it ice cream topping and enjoy it that way.

  • http://divakitty.wordpress.com/ DKM

    Oh YUM!

  • http://www.restaurantreviewworld.com foodette

    That sounds like such a fantastic way to enjoy fruit. I love it when the random cooking bug gets me like that. And, I love cooking by instinct. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe.

  • onhazier

    Forgot to mention: I am a germaphobe out of necessity due to being immuno-compromised. I assure you that lemon (or lime) juice and proper cooking and jar sealing will keep you and your friends safe. I’m a fourth generation jam maker in the family and no one has died or even been sick from our goods once.

  • http://visit-san-francisco.blogspot.com Alison

    When I studied in France, my French host mother would make amazing plum jam. I crave it but have never been brave enough to try it myself!

  • http://thehungerseattle.blogspot.com Stephen

    Sounds great. Don’t be scared of canning. The way I see it, if I’m going to die I’d rather be killed by something as beautiful as food! ;)

  • http://al-heureduthe.blogs.marieclaire.fr sandra

    quel dommage que je ne maitrise pas l’anglais “correctement”, car ton blog me plait beaucoup, mais c’est malheureusement beaucoup trop long de traduire….

  • Ben

    Your pad thai recipe has transformed my kitchen and improved my culinary life.
    Thanks very very much.

  • http://stereowithme.blogspot.com/ Krizia

    eek! Pim, je suis jaloux de ta vie!

  • kimmie

    Hi Pim!
    The jam looks wonderful! I too, am a HUGE germaphobe as well, that’s part of the reason I’ve never tried to make jam either–but like you, have always been fascinated. This definitely temps me–just a step closer to trying it!

  • Pollo

    Pim,
    You will not “kill” anyone with tomato jams as long as you do not incrtease pH above 4.6 or even 4.7 according to some sources. Last year when you posted a recepie for making garlic in oil I sent you an e-mail warning that with this particular product (garlic in oil) you can kill people…not sure if you got that e-mail…..

  • Ari

    I like to use 1 part sugar to 4 parts fruit for sweet ripe fruits, and 1 to 3 for less-sweet fruit. This even works for as small a quantity as 1 cup of fruit, if you have a small saucepan.
    …also, if you start a pot of water boiling when you start your jam, you can boil-to-sterilize your jars and lids at the same time. (10 mins in boiling water)
    Let the jam cool slightly, use clean tongs to pull jar from water bath (holding outside of jar), let drip dry over the water bath upside down, fill HOT jar with warm jam, fish out jar lid top from water bath, place on top of jar, fish out canning jar ring, screw into place.
    If you put it in the fridge like this, it will vacuum seal itself, and you will be rewarded with a delightful *pop* when you open it.
    I still keep my homemade jams in the fridge, for safety, but everything I’ve read indicates that fruit is acidic enough that it does not require double-processing if you sterilize the jars and pour the jam into the HOT jars and seal immediately.

  • http://www.urbanspoon.com LauraMac

    I love those glass jars. I keep an eye out for them at Goodwill. Home to try jam. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • http://www.meieats.com mei

    Germaphobes unite! Well, how long does jam last anyways? I got handed some homemade/batch-made jams in kilner jars that has been round for some time (at least a year!) but tastes okay and a pinky test didn’t render me bedridden. Wot’s your verdict?

  • http://www.meieats.com mei

    Germaphobes unite! Well, how long does jam last anyways? I got handed some homemade/batch-made jams in kilner jars that has been round for some time (at least a year!) but tastes okay and a pinky test didn’t render me bedridden. Wot’s your verdict?

  • http://www.meieats.com mei

    Germaphobes unite! Well, how long does jam last anyways? I got handed some homemade/batch-made jams in kilner jars that has been round for some time (at least a year!) but tastes okay and a pinky test didn’t render me bedridden. Wot’s your verdict?

  • http://www.meieats.com mei

    Germaphobes unite! Well, how long does jam last anyways? I got handed some homemade/batch-made jams in kilner jars that has been round for some time (at least a year!) but tastes okay and a pinky test didn’t render me bedridden. Wot’s your verdict?

  • http://nookandpantry.blogspot.com/ Amy

    I’m a germaphobe too, but I’ll be using this recipe! I love the cute little jar.

  • http://www.cocoandme.com Tamami from Coco&Me

    Hi. I also tried to make jam from Christine Ferber’s recipe! And you’re right – jam making is sooo easy. And the sterizing the jars’ easy too.
    I wanted to sell it on my market stall, bought 50 jars to start with. (cheaper when bought in balk). But soon realized fresh fruit is so darn expensive…! I’ve decided to prospone my jam-project to concenrate on popular items instead – hence I have about 45 empty jars still… what shall i do with them?!

  • courtney

    some lovely Chez Panisse jam recipes recommend putting the lemon juice in at the very end, just before you put them in the jar; this gives the jam an astonishingly bright and vivid taste, even after all the boiling.

  • Nevaida Toussaint Ray

    How long does plum jam last in the frig.. It will be a year in August.

  • Triestina

    Just a question-why not putting the tops on the jars after they are filled with the hot jam and letting them cool like that ?

  • Ennisrm

    Just what I needed with apricot and plum trees fruiting madly in the Australian summer. Thanks

  • Barbarasunshine

    I’d worry far more about the amount of sugar and what that can do to your health than any germs with making jam with hot water bath method.  Try using Pomona’s pectin which lets you make jam with very little sugar!  (I don’t work for the company but believe in this product)