Tag Archives: victoria plums

Victoria Plum Jam

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?

victoria_plums

However, when you make them into jam, the colour from the skins infuses everything, resulting in this deep amber colour.

plumjam1

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.

plumjam2

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…

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Plum Galette

I was overjoyed to find a punnet of Victoria plums on a farm stall at the weekend. I saw them, charged over, possibly skipped the queue and made them mine with a minimum of delay. All this because it is a fruit of which I have very fond memories. In the house where I grew up, we had a Victoria plum tree, and year after year, it provided a magnificent yield of sweet yellow-fleshed plums with red skin. As a child, these were also pleasingly large, and there never seemed to be any question about us not being able to eat as many as we could manage.

The usual answer when I have plums would be to make jam. Victoria plums produce a lovely russet-coloured preserve, but I have a bit of a glut of the sweet stuff at the moment. Something else was called for. What about something everyone likes, a fruity French tart? Okay, sniggering aside, a great way to prepare fruit is a simple puff pastry base, pile on the fruit, and bake in the oven. Assuming the fruit was photogenic to start with and you have been a little bit artistic in how you arrange the fruit, you get a chic/rustic tart.

The great thing about a fruit galette is that you don’t have to put in much work to end up with a spectacular looking (and tasting) tart. I’m a busy person, and I don’t make puff pastry. I do know the theory and I can make pretty good puff pastry, but I am also quite happy to buy one of the excellent all-butter versions that you can buy. There, I’ve said it, and I’m not embarrassed!

Just prepare the pastry base, fold over the edges (which have the dual function of creating a pastry “frame” for the fruit, and stopping all the fruit juices seeping out and creating a big, sticky mess in the bottom of your oven), then fill with fruit of your choice. Plums work well as they also look attractive when laid out in the centre, but equally dramatic results come with apple, gooseberry, cherry or blaeberry (one I plan to make in the near future).

In my version, as the plums I had were very ripe, I didn’t want the tart to be overly-sweet. I just brushed the fruit with a little orange blossom honey and baked. The result was sublime. The fruit does not become sweet, but keeps a  little kick of tartness, which is something that I very much like when eating this sort of baked fruit item. A wondeful combinaton of colour, fragrance, flavours and crisp butter pastry. Somehow fitting for that most regal member of the plum family.

For plum galette:

• 200g puff pastry
• 8 large plums
• 25g butter
• 2 tablespoons liquid honey (orange blossom or acacia)

• 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Melt the butter in a saucepan, and put to one side.

Roll the pastry into a large rectangle. Transfer to a baking sheet, and fold over 2cm on each edge and press lightly. Brush the centre with the melted butter (use about half of it).

Cut the plums into eighths. Arrange on the pastry, alternating the direction in each row (see the picture).

Add the honey to the melted butter, heat and stir well until very runny. Brush the plums with the honey-butter mixture and sprinkle the granulated sugar over the plums (avoiding the pastry). Place the galette in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F). Transfer the galette from the fridge to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 200°C (390°F), and cook for another 30 minutes until the pastry is golden and the fruit looks soft and dry on the surface.

Worth making? This is a really great and really easy dessert. Quick to make, and easy to play around with the type of fruit you use to suit what you like. Surely worth trying.

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