Monday, 4 July 2011

And now for something completely different!

This weekend my husband and I have been doing some jointly creative things. Namely, making plum jam!

Experimental wild plum jam, to be precise. We live in Central London, but there is a surprising amount of food growing in the area if you're looking. On Friday he went out and found about six kilos of wild plums, both red and golden, within a 10-minute walk of our flat. And on Saturday he brought home about a kilo of blackberries! The blackberries are in the freezer, waiting until the rest of the crop ripens. Once we've got another couple of kilos, we'll be making blackberry wine. For now, though, we have plum jam. It's slow to set - hubs mis-measured the pectin, so there isn't quite enough. But it is setting, and it tastes amazing. We're also going to make a batch of chutney, but we ran out of canning jars. Here's something fairly close to the recipe, which I cobbled together from half-a-dozen places.

Plum Pudding Jam

3 kilos of wild plums, washed and picked over
1 cup of apple juice
3 kilos of sugar
2 heaping tablespoons of cinnamon
Half a tablespoon of cloves
Half a tablespoon of allspice
Quarter teaspoon of ground black pepper
Enough pectin for the volume of fruit
Knob of butter to stop foaming.

Pit all the plums. Add apple juice and spices to chopped plums and bring to a boil, stirring so that it doesn't stick. Add the sugar one bag at a time, bringing it back up to a hard boil in between bags. Once the sugar is all in and dissolved, add the butter and the pectin. Boil hard and stir constantly. At this point, we used a slotted spoon to skim out the plum skins, since we were far too lazy to peel them. Having the skins come out also made it a lot easier to get rid of the skum. Once it tests to set, ladle the hot jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving a quarter-inch of headspace. Put lids on. Wipe off any drips and set aside to cool and seal.

We ended up with a dozen jam jars full, plus a small cup that wouldn't fit in. We just popped that one straight into the fridge and have been eating it on toast. It's more of a preserve than proper jam, due to the pectin fail, but it's really tasty. We used a mixture of just ripe and fully ripe plums, and it's got a gorgeous puckery tang over the sugar. The spices are quite strong. It really does taste like plum pudding smells, hence the name!

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