Yes, it’s another post about preserving! Don’t worry, something savoury is in the offing in the next few days…
While I’m a big fan of picking wild fruit and doing various things with it (jam or steeping it in alcohol for a winter tipple) I also love good old-fashioned Victoria plum jam. It’s such a bright, jolly colour first thing in the morning and the flavour is delicious on hot buttered toast.
Victoria plums are really very pretty fruit. The flesh is a bright golden colour, while the skin is a mottled reddish-purple. Nice, eh?
However, when you make them into jam, the colour from the skins infuses everything, resulting in this deep amber colour.
This is also a great recipe if you’re a bit of a jam novice. Just take equal weights of plums and jam sugar, boil up with a little lemon juice, and you’re got some fantastic jam to see you through the winter months.
If you’re after something extra special, you can add a dash of brandy or plum schnapps to each jar just after potting and before you seal with the lid. But be careful – you don’t want to add more than a couple of teaspoons, otherwise the jam won’t set (and, eh, you probably don’t want too much brandy with breakfast?). One other little trick that I do is to take some seeds from the plums and add a couple to each pot of jam – these had a bitter almond flavour, which will enhance the taste of the jam.
To make Victoria plum jam (makes around 6 jars):
• 1kg Victoria plums
• 1kg jam sugar
• 1 lemon, juice only
1. First, the boring bit. Sterilise some jam jars(*), and put a plate into the freezer – you’ll need this to test when the jam is set.
2. Rinse the plums. Cut each in half and remove the stones. Throw the fruit into a large saucepan with a little water. Place on a medium heat until the fruit starts to soften.
3. Add the sugar, stir well and then place on a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then keep on a slow rolling boil for around 10 minutes. Add the lemon juice, boil for another minute, then start to check for a set every minute or so – put some jam on the cold plate, leave for a moment to cool, and if it wrinkles when you push with your finger, it’s done.
4. While the jam is cooking, crack open some of the plum stones and remove the seeds. Blanch them briefly by boiling for 30 seconds, and the seeds should slip out of the skins. Split the seeds into two.
5. Once the jam is ready, ladle into the prepared jars, adding 2-3 pieces of the plum seeds. Seal, label and hide it somewhere to enjoy later.
(*) To sterilise jam jars: wash with hot, soapy water, then rinse well. Place upside-down in a cold oven, and heat to 90°C for 15 minutes. Leave in the oven to cool down while you are making the jam . To sterilise the lids, wash with hot, soapy water, then rinse well, place in a saucepan with boiling water for 5 minutes.
Worth making? Yes – this is easy, delicious and a great addition to the breakfast table. And with brandy…well, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere…