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Plum varieties bear fruit all summer

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when I considered plums fruits of midsummer.

At least that’s how they appeared in grocery stores, available before peaches. Wild trees in the vicinity of my home near the Rogue River typically started bearing in July. Go a week without checking the trees, and I missed out.

I’ve always been aware that prune varieties come on later, but I’ve been amazed at how plums of all shapes and sizes have been a reliable component of our weekly CSA box when other crops seemed scarce. Starting with those little ones hardly bigger than the pit each harbors and progressing through pluots to Italian prunes, they’ve been summer’s constant.

A larger haul this past week has challenged me to use up the plums. The latest varieties we received are firm and often don’t ripen into juiciness after a week on the counter, suggesting some form of preservation.

I adore plum jam, but with so many other kitchen responsibilities this month, jam is low on the priority list. So I figure I’ll make jam when I have time in a few months with the plums that I halved, pitted and packed into freezer bags.

It’s a concept popularized by some master food preservers and other experts, who recommend weighing or measuring your fruit and noting the quantities on the freezer bag. Some also tout adding the sugar and lemon juice you’ll need for jam, but that seems easy enough to do in the moment and also gives me the flexibility to use my plums in cakes, tarts, turnovers or other desserts, as time and motivation allow.

That’s how we’ll keep reaping the rewards of our CSA and taste summer all year.

Tribune News Service photo

Plum Jam

2 pounds plums and pluots, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch dice (3 1/2 cups)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups granulated sugar

Put 3 metal spoons into freezer.

In a medium saucepan, combine the plums, lemon juice, salt and 1 tablespoon water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until fruit starts to soften a little, for about 3 minutes.

Stir in the sugar. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to maintain a steady low boil. Continue boiling, stirring and skimming off foam from surface occasionally, until mixture is thickened and drizzly like maple syrup, for 12 to 15 minutes.

To test jam’s doneness, take a spoon from freezer and scoop a little onto spoon’s tip. Tilt spoon; jam should glide as slow as honey. Repeat testing with remaining spoons if needed.

Divide jam among 3 clean half-pint canning jars. Seal and cool to room temperature, then refrigerate or freeze.

Makes about 3 half-pints.

VARIATION: Add 3 whole star anise to saucepan with plums in first step. You can jar jam with the anise, but discard before eating.