big thankies and respeck to my beautiful sister-in-law nicole for getting me hooked on the making of preserves. she recently gifted us a KILLER peach raspberry champagne jam, that's absolutely stunning on toast. ohh baby.
when i was last in upstate new york, i was fortunate enough to find a stand at the ithaca farmer's market selling prunus cerasifera, or cherry plums. these plums are, not surprisingly, about the size of a cherry and have an intense, sweet-tart flavour. what's really special about them, though, is their incredibly high pectin content, making them a natural choice for preserves. it's quite a laborious process separating all the plums from their tiny stones, but the sparkling, jewel-like tart red jelly you're left with is well worth the effort.
1 pint cherry plums, washed and pitted
6 tablespoons sugar
combine plums and sugar over medium heat, stirring to disolve sugar. simmer, stirring occasionally, until plums have cooked down to a uniform shade of bright red and a thick, jelled consistency. as jam is approaching readiness, prepare three 60 ml jars by sterilizing under hot water. spoon jam into prepared jars with a small funnel, seal jars and place in a heavy stock pot such that they are covered by at least one inch with water. boil for ten minutes, then remove jars carefully with tongs and place on paper towels. if jars have properly sealed, you will hear a "pop" sound shortly after they are removed from the water, and the top of the jar will not move when pressed. since this produces rather a small batch, you may skip the jar-boiling canning steps if you wish, and simply eat the jelly within 2-3 weeks. (chances are that it won't last that long regardless; i for one have been quite greedily having second helpings of toast every morning since our sudden influx of homemade preserves.)
*also: for an extra-special and very comforting autumnal treat, try adding just a teensy hint of cinnamon while the jelly is cooking.