ume-shiso jam (front) and ume jam | ume jam in Weck canning jars
When I made ume jam a few weeks ago, I had a few ideas about how to do it better, so when a crate of ume appeared in the teachers’ room last week, you can bet that I was stocking up. I heard that one of the teachers at my school lives on an ume farm, so he brings ume to school every year around this time. I took 2 kilos of ume so that I could make another batch of jam and also try my hand at making ume-shu. These ume were still green but were definitely on the verge of turning yellow. I separated them by color, using the greener ones for ume-shu and the more yellow ones for the jam.
The ume-shu was as easy as pie. It’s resting now, but I’ll try to remember to post about it when it’s ready to taste.
This time, for the ume jam I drained the water just as it started to boil. Then I used the back of my knife to press the flesh off of the pit. I put the chopped fruit back into the pan. Finally, I put the still-pulpy pits into a strainer and used a rubber spatula to press and stir the pits around to remove as much of the remaining fruit as possible. Finally, I added about half-a-cup to a cup of water to get a slightly thinner jam and 800 grams of sugar.
This time I used canning jars for the jam. By the way, I love these Weck canning jars that I bought for this project, they’re so cute! I didn’t have enough jars, so I put 2 cups of jam in “tupperware” and put them in the freezer. I defrosted one on Friday, and it seemed a little looser than the jam in the jars, so maybe I will re-cook the other one after I defrost it to see if it comes back together.
I really wanted to try making an ume-shiso jam too, so for the last cup of jam in the pot, I stirred in about a teaspoon each of finely chopped yukari and the liquid from the yukari. Yukari is the red-shiso that’s used in making umeboshi, so it’s available this time of year. I bought some at Shoku-no-eki recently and it lives in my freezer, ready to be thrown into whatever dishes I want to add some yummy pickled-shiso flavor to.
After tasting the ume-shiso jam, I decided that this way was definitely my favorite, so next year I’ll split the batch 50/50 between plain and shiso flavor. The shiso is salty and it gives the jam a more complex and interesting flavor than the plain ume provides. It’s not much of a difference in my yogurt, but I love it on toast! The yukari and yukari liquid also gave the jam a beautiful ruby tint.
Ume Jam and Ume-Shiso Jam
1 kilogram ao-ume (green ume) or yellow ume
800 grams sugar
pinch of salt
optional: yukari (red shiso used in making umeboshi) and yukari liquid
Wash the ume well. Use a wooden skewer or toothpick to remove any stem remnants. Soak the ume for several hours or overnight in salted water. Drain the ume.
Place the ume in a large, heavy pot (an enameled cast-iron dutch oven works well) and cover with fresh cold water. Place over medium heat. When the water just begins to boil, remove from heat and drain ume. Use the flat side of a chef’s knife to press the flesh off of the ume. The pit will still have some fruit clinging to it. Set the pits aside. When you have pitted all the ume, chop the fruit roughly.
Put the ume pulp back in the pot. Add 800 grams of white sugar and 1/2 cup to 1 cup of water to thin the mixture slightly. If you are making plain ume jam, add a generous pinch of salt (omit this if you are making ume-shiso jam, as the yukari is quite salty). Place over low heat. While the fruit mixture is heating, use a rubber spatula to press the pits against the sides of a metal strainer to remove as much of the remaining fruit as possible. Add this to the fruit mixture. Allow the mixture to simmer for about 15 minutes, until it has thickened slightly and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
For ume-shiso jam, add one teaspoon each of finely chopped yukari and yukari liquid (or ume vinegar) for each cup of jam.* Stir and allow to simmer for a few minutes more to allow the color to incorporate into the jam.
*1 kilogram of ume made about 5 or 6 cups of jam for me.