Plum jam. It was the first jam that I made. It was a steep learning curve, too, as Phil’s blog entries at the time suggest:
24 June 2008
That’ll Teach Me…
… to open my big mouth. Just a couple of hours after the previous post, a savage hailstorm rolled up the valley and back down again. Some of the hailstones were walnut-sized. The noise was incredible. Thankfully the car was in the garage (I often leave it outside but had put it in so it didn’t get too hot!) otherwise I’m sure it would have suffered damage.
The only real damage is to our (and everybody else’s) fruit crops – the plums, figs, cherries, apricots currently in season will have taken a battering, as will the apples, pears and olives still in their younger stages.
26 June 2008
Sue is currently full-time in the kitchen, making jams and preserves from the damaged and fallen fruit. Just to add a final insult, the weather has turned the wick back up, and this afternoon the readout on the farmacia in the village was reading 46C – just the weather to be slaving over a hot stove!
We have actually escaped quite lightly; the biggest loss was our plums, of which Sue has collected about 40lbs to convert.
I forget the exact amount of plum jam that I made that year. I stopped counting after 60 kilos. It also became clear that I had to adapt the recipe that I was using. The original recipe called for the stones from the plums to be ‘removed with a slotted spoon’ at the end of the jam making process. This proved to be a very dangerous process. I could only imagine that it would be like trying to pick out pieces of rock from molten lava (I can only imagine this, having never been that close to an active volcano) and I quickly decided that I had to find a better way – the blisters that I was getting from the scalding jam were too much and I wasn’t getting 100% of the stones out.
I have now (pretty much) perfected the recipe and, as this year’s crop of plums are now ready to pick, I thought I’d share it with you.
What you’ll need:
Two very large saucepans (if you have preserving pans, better)
2.7 kg (6 lb) plums – washed
900 ml (1.5 pints) water
2.7 kg (6 lb) sugar
knob of butter (optional)
Put the plums and water in one of the pans and simmer gently for about 30 minutes – until the fruit is really soft and the contents of the pan are well reduced. Stir from time to time to prevent the fruit sticking to the bottom of the pan.
When the fruit is really soft, remove from the heat and leave to stand for a few moments. Pass the contents of the pan through the colander, to remove the stones from the plums, into the second pan (use a wooden spoon to squish it through).
Add the sugar, stirring until it is all dissolved.
Add the knob of butter (if you want).
Return the pan to the heat and bring to the boil.
Boil rapidly for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.
Test for a set* and, when setting point is reached, take the pan off the heat and remove any scum with a slotted spoon.
Leave to stand for 15 minutes before potting and covering.
Yield: 4.5 kg (10 lb)
* – How to test for a set: at the same time as you begin cooking the fruit, place three or four saucers in the freezing compartment of the fridge. When you have boiled the jam for the given time, remove the pan from the heat and place a teaspoonful of the jam on to one of the chilled saucers. Let it cool back in the fridge, then push it with your finger: if a crinkly skin has formed on the jam, then it has set. It if hasn’t, continue to boil for another 5 minutes, then do another test. – Thanks Delia!
I couldn’t end without posting this, now, could I?
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