In residence this winter/upside down summer at PAF, in the north of France, I was happily caught up in an improvised mirabelle jam session. Mirabelles are little sweet yellow plums, and since a hive of bees was installed in the garden last year, the fruit trees here have been producing like crazy. We’re talking buckets of mirabelles falling each day. I’d been lying nearby reading the new book edited by Thom van Dooren, Deborah Bird Rose and Mathew Chrulew, Extinction Studies: Stories of Time, Death and Generations, and the sound of wasps swarming over the split mirabelles, flecked with dew under an increasingly fickle sun, made for an atmospheric backdrop to what must be the dwindling days (in planetary terms) of such comfortable abundance.
The day came while Norbert’s mother Françoise was visiting from Stuttgart, and the three of us set to making a couple of simple jams, one spiked with ginger and the other with lemon. Since we were worried about the setting we also added some agar agar powder at the end, resulting in a pretty solid and cloudy jam.
A week later, joined by Morgan and Lor and with Norbert halfway out the door to Brussels, we tried a different recipe peppered with wild mint from the woods, using the mirabelle seeds, smashed and then wrapped in cheesecloth, to provide the pectin. This one had a deeper colour and after quite some time on the stove it set just fine.