Cook the Book

Cardamom-Plum Jam from 'Little Jars, Big Flavors'

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[Photograph: Ellen Silverman]

In my Berkeley neighborhood this time of year, plums are falling from trees, staining the sidewalks, and making up a huge part of my fruit intake. With such a massive influx, it's the perfect time to turn the quickly ripening fruit into jam. This cardamom-plum version in Southern Living's Little Jars, Big Flavors is an elegant extension of a basic recipe. Fruit is simmered with sugar until it softens and releases its juice, and then the plum pulp is removed from the syrup while it boils. This step may seem surprising—even erroneous—but it keeps the texture of the plums distinct from the syrup and preserves their bright freshness.

Why I picked this recipe: I have more plums on my hands than I know what to do with; jam was the only way out.

What worked: I loved the floral qualities that the cardamom brought to the plums, and the lime juice added necessary acidity while complementing the spice.

What didn't: As is often the case with jam, my attempt at the recipe didn't yield the full five 1/2-pints advertised. I had four full jars plus a couple extra tablespoons for the fridge.

Suggested tweaks: Adding a (pinky-nail size) smidge of butter to the jam along with the plum pulp will help to eliminate foam without skimming. If you really dig the lime-cardamom pair, consider adding lime zest to the jam right before adding it to the jars.

For a primer on boiling-water canning, click here.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Little Jars, Big Flavors to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and Berkeleyside NOSH, and she blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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