I don't want to make boring plum jam
I have maybe 25 lbs of yellow plums crying out for attention. They're pretty juicy-- not destined for pastry. I would like to jam some, and ??? with the rest.
1. How can I jazz up my jam? I was wondering about some combination of pink peppercorns, vanilla bean and/or green cardamom.
2. What to do with the rest? Does anyone have a great recipe for a plum barbeque sauce or glaze or chutney?
1. All those sound interesting. Ginger, Candied ginger, mint will also work for me.
2. Plum chutney. Just use a mango chutney recipe and sub in the plums.
follow your instincts! cardamom was my first thought, and i love it paired with pepper to temper the floral note and the sweetness of the fruit. i've also had great success combining cardamom with lemon (which actually has a lemony undertone anyway), so maybe you could add some lemon zest for flavor and a textural contrast. ginger, cinnamon...actually, any typical warming spices (think spice cake/gingerbread) would be nice.
How wonderful are your plums on their own? If they are great, I would do at least one batch with no add-ins. The idea of plum BBQ sauce or glaze is good, but those can be made in seconds when the need arises if you have a great jam. I like the spice ideas you have gotten if using the jam as a spread, but for general purposes where you use the jam as an ingredient I like to keep the jam intense and plain and add things in as they fit the dish.
1) I have never canned yellow plums, but the Italian "prune" plums are great just canned in syrup like any other fruit. Very versatile once canned (e.g.: plum cake, clafoutis, ice cream, smoothies, on their own...)
2) They make nice sorbet and ice cream. Because homemade ice creams and sorbets deteriorate texture-wise very quickly in the freezer, I will generally freeze the sweetened fruit puree and then thaw it (partially, usually) and process it right before I plan on serving them. This works well for yellow plums (after a foolish impulse purchase one year...), strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries (and probably other things I haven't yet overpurchased when seduced by their aroma...).
3) I bet you could freeze them and use them like any other frozen fruit, especially smoothies. They would probably lose their texture more than, say, frozen peaches, but they could still be useful.
4) I have played with spices and other flavoursome additives in jam. While none of the results have been bad, I have to say that I have tired quickly of the distracting flavours for day to day use. I think they work best when kept so far in the background that they don't even register, which doesn't help you on your quest for novelty, really. Have you considered making up a neutral batch of plum jam, canning it, and making the additives to each jar as you open it? It would give you greater flexibility, albeit at the cost of a bit of inconvenience.
Regardless of what you do with them, you probably know that they will darken quite a bit when do anything to them, and that lemon juice doesn't prevent this as well as it might with other fruits. I use ascorbic acid, and this works much better.
I second (third?) the ginger and plum combo. I also think plum and vanilla (seeded vanilla pod, leave a bit of the pod in the jar for presentation) would be classic.
But I also agree with the others - leave one or two jars plain, for glazes and marinades and cooking. We use apricot jam as a sweetener for traditional recipes here in South Africa, but I imagine plum would be great too. I'm planning to try pickled plums as well as jam when plum season comes around in another two months...
Oh, and the best chutney recipe I've found is River Cottage's glutney recipe. Google 'glutney' and you should find it on their site.