Outdoor activities with a healthy dose of curiosity, brought to you by Laure Latham
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When a Sunday hike gives you a bagful of wild plums, home-made jam is the right thing to do. After seeing several plum-looking fruits on the trail, I tasted a plump yellow fruit off a tree and loved it, recognizing the tell-tale tartness of summer plums. A few trees later, I stashed this natural bounty in my husband’s backpack and we removed the stones last night. The resulting jam is absolutely gorgeous and looks like liquid red rubies, even though the wild plums were all sorts of yellows, greens and reds. The jam is also surprisingly good and not too sweet, in a sour gummy kind of way (only, better). Since the wild plum and almond jam recipe is dead easy, here it is to enjoy while wild plums are still in season.
This foraging and cooking adventure started along the River Thames in posh Dorney Reach, a village whose grand houses on the river feature impressively manicured gardens. By luck, one of these gardens had a wild plum tree whose branches reached over the fence and I was able to confirm what I suspected, that we’d been hiking past wild plum trees for the past 2 hours. Quick, action!
Fortunately, my husband is a wild plum glutton and when he sets his mind to foraging, he’s a wild plum machine. Over the next half hour, we picked wild plums off six different trees. Of course, I tasted them all and the dark red plums below were my favorite hands down. They were so ripe (mid July) that some fell off the branches directly and we regretted not having a net to catch them.
This is how much we harvested and we were quite shy, as we weren’t sure what we would be able to cool or bake with them. In hindsight, we should have tripled the harvest.
This is what it looked like after removing the stones/pits.
Definitely closer to yellow than red, right? Making jam was simple as apple pie. Plunk fruit in deep-bottom pan, add sugar and lemon juice, bring to a simmer over low heat, simmer until done, add slivered almonds (because they look pretty) over. Honestly, jam has to be the easiest type of food you can make at home with foraged wild fruits.
The result was a delicious ruby red jam with small chunks of fruit glistening at the surface. I added slivered almonds for kicks, as I like their texture and taste in jams. If I had been masochistic, I would have cracked open a few plum stones to extract the almond but commercial almonds work just as great.
Now without further ado, here is the wild plum jam recipe.