This was my first summer seriously harvesting Indian plums* (aka osoberries aka Oemleria cerasiformis). When I’d nibbled ripe ones on the trail before, I’d found them bitter, in much the same way Oregon grape is bitter, so my plan was to try making them into jam, to satisfy my strong-tasting jam PBJ cravings while I wait to replenish my stock of Oregon grape jam.
Indian plum, like Oregon grape, is a native shrub much beloved of native plant do-gooder** landscapers. So while there aren’t many fruits on any given shrub, there are a lot of shrubs. Unlike Oregon grape it is one of the first fruits to ripen in summer – I was actually a bit late picking them. Everywhere but the north-facing slopes and deeply shaded understories, the remaining osoberries had gone all wrinkly, and they spilled brown juice down my fingers whenever I touched them.
What a difference a late harvest makes. The overripe Indian plums had lost their tartness and concentrated their sugars into a curranty, raisiny deep sweetness. Still a bit of bitterness, just enough to give it depth. I started slurping at my hands.
I took home a big peanut butter tub full of fruits. Then I got to feeling fancy and spilled a little too much black pepper extract into my jam.