It’s been a long, warm summer and fruits and vegetables are plentiful. The supermarket close to us is also committed to bringing in produce from local farmers at very reasonable prices, which, I find, is an excellent initiative on their part.
This week, for instance, among other seasonal goodies there were plums – those dark-purple ones with a blueish hue.
They reminded me of home, where these “prune brumării” (grayish plums) were known for making the best “magiun” (plum jam).
Back there it was every housewife’s pride to prepare “magiun” in the fall, and have this tasty jam in the pantry for the winter months.
The traditional recipe is simple, but the procedure rather time-consuming:
take lots of ripe plums and wash them well, remove tails, halve them, remove the pits, then place them in a big pot, preferably a cast-iron kettle, and boil them for about 4 – 5 hours stirring frequently, until the jam becomes gooey and is reduced to about a third or even a fourth of the initial mass.
My grandma used to make it and it was absolutely delicious.
It was also 100% natural: no added sugar, no HFCS – high fructose corn syrup, no preservatives, no food coloring… Yet we did not really acknowledge or appreciate this quality, because in those days pretty much every food was natural.
I haven’t attempted to make this jam – until recently, when I found out that there is another, much easier way to do it.
Making jam with almost no work? Yes please!
A few days before the plums came to our supermarket I happened to read a post about how to make jam in the oven.
It seemed so darn simple that even I though I could do it!
Place fruit in a shallow baking dish, add sugar and bake in the oven for about an hour. Stir and put back in the oven for another 30 min or so, stirring every now and then, until the mass reaches a thick, jam-like consistency.
I figured that making plum jam would be even easier, since it doesn’t require any sugar.
THE RECIPE: Plum Jam – My Way
Halve plums and remove pits. Cut the halves in smaller pieces if you want a finer consistency; but it isn’t absolutely necessary.
Fill the plums in a large, shallow heat-resistant glass or ceramic dish and place in the oven. No need to preheat the oven.
Bake plums at 425 – 430 F for one hour. Keep an eye on them. On the sides the fruit will start caramelizing, while in the center of the dish the jam stays more liquid. So it’s best to stir once or twice, to homogenize the mass.
Turn down heat to 350 F and bake for another 30 to 45 minutes stirring every 10 – 15 minutes, until the jam reaches the desired consistency.
Old woman’s wisdom says that the jam is ready when a spoon stays in it. I tried and the spoon did stay for a few seconds, then it fell over.
But the jam looked good: it seemed to have the right consistency (plus it gets thicker when it cools down) and it tasted heavenly; this was good enough for me.
Fill the jam in jars while still hot and seal them immediately. Jars can be kept at room temperature.
The method can be used for any jam
I haven’t tried it so far, but there are plenty of recipes online for preparing jams in the oven.
I would stick to a simple ingredient list: fruits – preferably organic, and perhaps a little sugar if needed. You can always taste the jam during cooking and add sugar to your liking.
I would also cut the fruit in smaller pieces. They cook faster, plus I prefer a jam that spreads evenly, not a chunky one.
I hope that you, too, will try making jam at home. This way, at any time you could have one or two types of natural jam in the house, and avoid the store bought brands, most of which contain high fructose corn syrup. *)
I found these pretty jars at the Dollar store
*) some companies try to hide this ingredient and are now listing it as “fructose”, “corn syrup”, “corn sugar”, “maize syrup”, “glucose syrup”, “glucose-fructose”…
Bottom line, if the label doesn’t say “sugar” or “cane sugar,” anything else is likely some form of HFCS.
All photos are mine except where another source is expressly stated.
I have always liked writing but, being a mother of two and working full-time, it's not easy to find time for my hobbies.
I love nature and I'm committed to healthy cooking and clean, environment-friendly living. Oh, and I love coffee.