american plum jam

wild plumsWe’re blessed with so many plums…too many plums…a great problem to have! Ten years ago a friend who lived in theamerican plum jamwoods of Cedar Creek, SC handed me a tiny plum seedling as a house warming gift. Emily was five months pregnant and we’d just bought the shell of a house dirt cheap and were fixing it up as fast as we could. I was very familiar with wild Chickasaw plum trees, rugged outlaws who grow in tangles even in the sandiest pine barrens around here. But this one had broader, less curled leaves. My friend said it came up wild in Cedar Creek and was called American plum. I wasn’t too excited about the tree, thinking I wasn’t a fan of plums. Too many slightly bitter Chickasaws, or too many mediocre store bought plums. But seeing it was getting root bound in it’s pot, I finally planted it the following spring. While we were distracted with raising kids, permaculturing our yard, and figuring out how to make a living, the tree grew until it’s the largest fruit tree we have. The children climb it’s branches every day. We hang laundry in it to dry. Emily has conversations with it. And most amazingly it’s been dropping bright red melt-on-your-tongue plums for at least three weeks now. We collect maybe ten or twelve a day. It got fruit moths early on and I gave up on it’s fruit, but what I’ve learned this year is to be patient. We killed every larvae we could find in the first plums that fell, then found that the last two weeks of plums have been fruit moth-free. Tonight I pitted and simmered some plumsamerican plumin a quarter cup of water, sweetened it up a little with powdered stevia (add slowly and taste the mixture as you pour) then blended the whole thing to liquify. Once I returned it to a simmer in the pan Itheforagingfamily-1-30poured in maybe two tablespoons of pectin. This was all by feel, but it’s just for refrigerator jam, so the quantities aren’t critical for preservation. I used to make roughly the same jam years ago with wild Chickasaw plums. In our permaculture inspired garden the line between cultivated and wild blurs. The gardener becomes the forager. Plants are placed with some strategy in order to kickstart beneficial relationships. But usually the whole system evolves quickly in it’s own directions, and you’d do best to stand back and manage with a light touch. Bill Mollison, hammock lover and co-originator of permaculture, says it another way: “The designer becomes the recliner.” With perennial foods like fruit trees the work is mostly up front. Then you just prune in spring, pick fruit and fall in love with sweet precious life with every dripping sun-soaked bite.

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