Author: Montgomery, L.M.
Book: Anne of Green Gables, Anne’s House of Dreams
Difficulty rating: Little Women
Deliciousness rating: TBD
“Your dinner is in the oven, Anne, and you can get yourself some blue plum preserve out of the pantry” (Green 144).
Anne’s laugh, as blithe and irresistible as of yore, with an added note of sweetness and maturity, rang through the garret. Marilla in the kitchen below, compounding blue plum preserve, heard it and smiled; then sighed to think how seldom that dear laugh would echo through Green Gables in the years to come.” (Anne’s 2)
We consulted a most authentic source: L.M. Montgomery’s own recipe for plum jam! We found out about Aunt Maud’s Recipe Book while researching Miss Ellen Pringle’s 36-egg pound cake. LMM was apparently a celebrated cook, and she kept notes on her favorite dishes. However, as is the habit of a typical natural born cook, she did not provide a whole lot of detail. Thankfully, the Crawfords (authors/editors) give helpful hints that might help the unskilled modern bibliochef.
- 8 plums, some squashy (715g)
- 1 Braeburn apple (260g)
- Sugar (852g)
It’s kind of difficult to find traditional produce like good apples and plums in the San Diego area, where instead we have passion fruit, avocados, and mangoes galore. This is a trade-off we don’t usually regret in the slightest … until the time comes to make certain literary recipes.
LMM’s original recipe is pretty vague, just five brief sentences: “Weigh fruit and take 1/3 as much apples. Peel apples and cut up in small pieces. Take pound for pound of sugar and enough water to dissolve. When boiling put in apples and boil till soft. Then put in plums and let come to a boil.”
If we had more time, we would have tracked down more authentic plums and apples. The plum we should have used is probably the Damson, which is blue in color, more astringent in flavor, and supposed to be excellent for jams and preserves.
We consulted with the trusty Culinary Historians of Canada about the type of apple we should use, and of course, they did not fail us. (They are our favorite culinary historian group — not stuffy like some others we’ve come across, and super-fun to follow on Facebook!) One member pointed out that Marilla remarks in Anne of Avonlea, “Yellow Duchess trees always bear well.” Duchess of Oldenburg apples have yellow flesh, and their yellow skin have red patches. The closest we could find was a Braeburn.
1. Weigh the plums. Use a 1/3 as much apples.
3. Peel apple and cut into pieces.
4. Weigh the fruit and add equal amount of sugar.
5. “Add enough water to dissolve.” So this much? And then bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
6. Add the apples. Boil till soft over medium heat. (20-25 minutes and stir often, the Crawfords helpfully add.)
7. Well, after 20-25 minutes, the apples hadn’t gone soft at all. We added the plums anyway …
8. After a while more boiling, the apples were still keeping their shape. We were nervous, since this recipe didn’t call for any pectin, so the only jelling agent was the apple.
10. Boil a bit longer until it thickens. To test if it’s ready, put a little bit of the hot jam on a plate, and put it in the freezer for a few minutes. If you can draw a line through it with your finger that stays, it should be done.
And then Jenne sealed them up in jars! (She has some experience with canning.) Did you see how adorable they are? If not, scroll to the top of the post! They are Pinterest-worthy.
Did it measure up?
Well, it’s real sweet. Like candy. We would have preferred it a bit more tart — we should’ve added lemon, perhaps. We couldn’t be too choosy about our fruit, and our plums were probably a little too ripe. We are reserving our final judgment, however, until we use it to make Marilla’s matchless plum puffs!
Crawford, Elaine and Kelly Crawford. Aunt Maud’s Recipe Book: from the kitchen of L.M. Montgomery. Ontario: Moulin Publishing Limited/Crawford’s, 1996.
Montgomery, L.M. Anne of Green Gables. 1992. New York: Bantam Books, 1922.
Montgomery, L.M. Anne’s House of Dreams. 1992. New York: Bantam Books, 1922.