Wednesday, September 4, 2013

{Mirabelle} Plum Ginger Preserves

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  I don't even know how to describe how much I missed this space or how grateful I am that it has finally been returned to me.

Life post-move to Germany has been so strange and difficult and beautiful all at the same time.  I can hardly find the words to describe how completely unmoored I have felt since getting here.  And even if I did have the words, I'm not sure what language I would use to express them to you.  I have no background in German except for the little introduction to foreign languages I got in the eighth grade.  You don't want to know how long ago that was.  I do know a fair amount of Spanish and an even smaller amount of Italian, but they're of absolutely no help here.  My brain keeps reminding me that using English is the wrong way to go in conversations with the locals, but what I know in German can be counted on my fingers and toes.  Sometimes the words threaten to come out in Spanish instead.  Trust me, the fruit stand workers look at me quite strangely when I speak in my strange English/German/Spanish/Italian mix.
But I do know how to say please and thank you and I'm learning.  Honestly, the words that seem to come the easiest to me are the words associated with food.  Though I may often get the words for the numbers two and three mixed up, I have no problem at all with my fruits and veggies.  I know how to ask for an onion (Zwiebel), strawberry (Erdbeer) or tomato (Tomaten).  Beer and wine are easy (and SO good!).  So I'm starting with what I'm comfortable with and going from there.

The easiest place for me to start is jam.  While living in our hotel, we had to walk past a fruit stand every day to get to the restaurants.  I would slowly stroll by checking out the produce and have to restrain myself from buying all of the new fruits and veggies I had heard of but never seen or been able to get my hands on before.  But I had no kitchen in the hotel and the only thing I "cooked" in the month we lived there were PB&J sandwiches.  Sadly, the beautiful apricots never made it into my hands and their season has passed by.  But we're still in the heart of plum season here so when we moved from the hotel to our house, one of the first things I did was visit the thrice-weekly market in the town square and scoop up several types of beautiful plums (as well as currants and berries and veggies galore).  Some we ate while hiking to Germany's highest waterfall in the Black Forest, some got turned into a quick strudel and the rest became preserves.
{Mirabelle} Plum Ginger Preserves
Makes about 1 pint.
For the printable recipe, click here.

I've never seen a Mirabelle plum in the States, so these were completely new to me.  About the size of a large cherry with a tiny pit inside, they're quite lovely for snacking on.  The flavor is sweet and maybe a bit more floral than a regular plum.  If you ever do find them, please get some and try them.  In the meantime this simple preserve will work beautifully with any other type of plum you can get your hands on.  I dare say pluots or Italian plums might be even better than regular plums.  Just chop the plums into 1 inch (or so) pieces before cooking.

2 1/2 cups of pitted and chopped plums (if using Mirabelles, simply halve and pit)
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 to 1 tsp grated fresh ginger (to taste)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.  Cover and let stand at least 2 hours and up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Pour all ingredients (scraping out all the last bits of juice from the bowl) into a medium saucepan.  Bring the juices to a boil.  Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the juices have thickened and the fruit has become translucent.  If you check the temperature of the fruit mixture with an instant read thermometer, it should read 220 degrees.  This should take about 20 minutes.  Let cool and pour into a resealable container.

The preserves will keep for two to three weeks in the refrigerator.

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