My life dramatically changed after almost three months of being sugar free. Except for a glowing skin, I didn’t notice much of a difference while I was off any kind of processed sugars, but it’s what happened next that got my attention. Not only did I not crave any sweets, but my sensitivity to any type of food with processed sugars increased to such an extent that it almost became a sort of a nuisance. I can’t even eat a small piece of the best Belgian chocolate without being overwhelmed with a sensation of heaviness, of over-exceeding sweetness. It’s the same feeling I got when I used to eat half a pan of brownies, go figure.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining. I just… I’m amazed. You see, that doesn’t happen if one stops eating apples for three months. You don’t eat a first apple after two months and just go bleah. It’s a sad truth for the baker in me, for the pastry chef in me that is screaming on the inside, craving to make Pavlovas or macarons or fancy seven-layer cakes. But if that has to go for my body to be happier and healthier, so be it.
In my panoply of sugar-free recipes, this plum jam reigns supreme. It’s been in my family since forever and it has now become my favourite ultimate morning delight. I like to spread it on a slice of soft-buttered sourdough bread or some (guilty!) viennoiserie and eat it like it’s nobody’s business. It’s hard not to – it has a very specific sweet-tart taste, perfectly balanced so that it doesn’t gross anyone out.
The method is quite simple, but it does take some patience to make. One has to find the sweetest, softest, ripest plums, core them, slice them in large chunks, put them in a heavy-bottomed pot and simply simmer them on a medium flame into the thickest jam. At the beginning, there’s not much stirring involved: the plums will start to soften and release their juices and it will all smell and feel fantastic. After a while, the liquid will start to evaporate and the jam will start to thicken: that’s when it needs your undivided attention and stirring. In the final stages, you’ll see that you have to stir almost all the time or otherwise it’ll stick to the bottom of your pan. If it has drastically changed in colour and has become really thick, that’s when you know it’s done.
The time to make this jam varies according to the amount of plums used: the less plums, the shorter the time – the more plums, the longer the wait. For instance, for 3 pounds of plums you might wait for an hour or so, but you’ll only get a tiny jar of jam, maybe a family’s serving for a day. For 15 pounds you might wait as much as four hours, but it will be worth it. What you do need to know is that, at the end of this entire process, you’ll be left off with a much smaller batch than what you started with, even less than a half. I like to mix the jam with walnuts and maybe add a crushed aspirin if I plan to keep it for longer periods in the pantry: it helps with the preservation. The jam goes, without saying, into sterilised jars and will keep for very long years if stored properly in a dark, cool place.
I just made one batch today and the taste and smell were amazing, I ate one jar all by myself, without feeling any guilt at all :) Life’s good when you’re off the processed sugars roller coaster!
Love and plums!