The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 09.06.06


Plumb easy and plumb good

Little Jack Horner sat in the corner eating his Christmas pie, He put in his thumb and pulled out a plum and said, "What a good boy am I!"

It's still a few months until Christmas, but it's plum season, nonetheless. If you have a plum tree or know any one who does then chances are that you have more plums than you will ever need.

At our house we have been given boxes full of the purplish fruit, prompting an afternoon of boiling and toiling with resulting steamy windows as we put up jars of jam. No sooner did we get through a first batch when a neighbor arrived with two more boxes.

What to do?

Not wanting to waste, we will make more jam of course and perhaps some of you will be lucky enough to get a jar as a gift soon.

Plums seem to be well adapted to our northern climes and are prolific in this province.

As far as I can tell, most folk rarely use them for anything more than jams and jellies and as a convenient snack on the go. Of course, prunes are in ample supply but I had never realized that they are, in fact, dried plums. I suppose you could dry them in a food dehydrator and make homemade prunes easily.

We all know what prune juice is famous for and I do not recommend eating too many plums at one sitting unless you have facilities nearby. It's the skin, they say, that's responsible for exciting the bowel.

By the way, if you think Chinese plum sauce contains plums then you are sadly mistaken. Most commercial brands contain sugar and vinegar and marmalade or pineapple as primary fruit ingredients. I'm not sure why this is but I suspect it has to do with the substantial effort required to remove the pits from a batch of plums.

As my wife can attest, it takes some skill and patience to perform this necessary task before making jam. I can attest to the value in this, as her version is so good that you will want to make some yourself. No need to add pectin for this simple recipe as there is enough in plums to set the jam just right.

Homemade Quebec Plum Jam
3 lbs. plums
1 1/2 to 2 c. water
3 lbs. sugar

Wash and stone (remove pits) fruit and put into a saucepan with water. (Under ripe fruit requires more water then ripe fruit.) Cook over low heat until plums are soft. Add sugar and cook, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and boil rapidly until jam reaches setting point. (About 20 to 30 minutes) Pour into warm sterilized jars, seal immediately and process in boiling water bath for ten minutes.