Sunday, August 4, 2013


Seattle has a lot of lovely trees on its neighborhood planting strips—that strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street. A lot of those trees are fruit trees—plum, cherry, apple, pear, quince, fig…it still amazes me how easily they grow out here, and how many of them there are. Last year I wrote out a few notes introducing myself, including an email address, and asking permission to pick the fruit off of those trees if they didn’t have plans for them. Some people responded, and I got a lot of fruit to try canning and drying.

Canning is definitely more my forte—the prunes I tried to make were lackluster at best. So when I reached out to a nice lady who has a very densely fruited shiro plum tree on her planting strip, she encouraged me to go right ahead again this year and pick the plums.

I got 17 pounds of plums this year, and it barely looked like I touched the tree. There is tons of fruit on this tree, it’s amazing. So far I’ve made a yellow plum sauce, which is nice n’zesty:

And a straight-up plum jam, just made with fruit and sugar in the proportions advocated by the lovely people at Under the Tuscan Gun:

I deliberated a bit on how much to cook the jam. I made the same jam last year from the same plums, and like a lot of my jam endeavors it came out with a very solid set, something that hovered around the consistency of a gumdrop. It was spreadable, but not as luscious as a softer jam would be. I also like mixing this with soy sauce to made a plum sauce for Asian dishes, and making that with a harder-set jam is a bit of a struggle. So I took it off the heat when it still looked too loose for my liking, grit my teeth, and canned it.

It is a bit softer than I would optimally like, but I made the soy/jam sauce last night for a friend’s mu shu pork dinner and it mixed together much more easily—and with a more vibrant plum flavor, I think. So overall it was a win.

Now I need to figure out what to do with the other 8 or so pounds of plums I still have. This is giving me some ideas:


  1. I heard someone on NPR talking about testing your jam with a spoon that had been kept in the freezer. This cools it off quickly enough to be able to judge how set it will be.

    1. I put a saucer in the freezer. It set, but it was a soft set. Next time I'll do it at a slightly harder set, but only slightly.