Plum Jam

7 Jan

My parents have a plum tree in their front garden. As it’s summer in our part of the world and they’re currently away on a month-long jaunt in the United States, The Husband and I have been nominated as Official Plum Gatherers in their absence.

In theory, I love the idea of having a fruit tree – traipsing out into the garden with a lovely big basket and leisurely plucking perfectly ripe plums on a hot, sunny afternoon sounds so…charming.

In reality, it’s not quite so simple. My parents have a slightly unnerving obsession with the annual plum harvest; nets are thrown over the tree to protect as much of the fruit as possible from the merciless birds, and there’s a mad dash every morning to pick as many plums as humanly possible in a  desperate bid to avoid any falling from the tree and being swooped on. As a result, we end up with enormous crates of plums for which we have no use. I mean, there are only so many stewed plums you can eat before you’re put off them for all eternity, really. Every summer there’s a new struggle to think of things to make. My stepfather made litres and litres of plum chutney last year in a desperate bid to make use of the piles of fruit, but he added so much chili to it that no one but him actually managed to consume any. The whole thing is more trouble than it’s worth, really….but the plums themselves are lovely.

My stepfather didn’t have time to get out the nets for the tree before they left for their holiday and I have no idea where the nets are kept, so we’re in a constant epic battle with the Rainbow Lorikeet birds to salvage as many plums as possible.

They’re ruthless!

Although, we’ve also enlisted The Big Brave Guard Dog to protect the tree…

My parents love their yearly plum extravaganza, though, and they’d be heartbroken to arrive home from their holiday to find no plums remaining. I’m planning on stewing a whole lot of them and freezing the stewed plums in batches so they can defrost them whenever they like, but I need to mix it up a bit or I’ll go insane.

So, I’ve settled on something I haven’t done in several years – jam.

There’s something so quaint and homely about jam making. It has that real olde-worlde charm which instantly makes you seem like a complete domestic goddess, swanning around in a frilly apron making batch after batch to bottle and sell at the village fête. Everyone tends to ooh and ahh impressively when you produce a fresh jar of homemade jam. Honestly, though? As lovely as it is to have everyone thinking that you’re a kitchen queen, jam making is actually ridiculously easy. Three ingredients and you’re set – literally. You can’t get much simpler than that! You could use this recipe for almost any other fruit jam – raspberry, strawberry, blackberry…the list is endless. The traditional recipe is equal parts fruit and sugar (so for every cup of fruit add one cup of sugar), but I find there’s more than enough sugar doing it this way. Suit yourself, though!

PLUM JAM

4 cups plums, pitted and chopped

2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. First, the most important thing is to begin sterilising your jam jars and their lids. Start by preheating the oven to 110 degrees Celsius (that’s 230 degrees Fahrenheit) and washing the jars and lids thoroughly in hot, soapy water.

2. Rinse the jars and lids well and place in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water and place on a medium-high heat. Allow to boil and then leave the jars boiling for 10 – 15 minutes.

3. While the jam jars and lids are boiling, prepare the plums. Rinse the plums gently under cold water and pat dry.

4. On a chopping board, halve plums and remove pits. Chop each half into quarters.

5. Place chopped plums in a large pan and add lemon juice.

6. Cook plums and lemon juice on a medium heat for 5 minutes to begin softening the fruit, stirring occasionally.

7. Add sugar to the plums and stir well to combine.

8.  Cook the jam on a medium heat for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, remove jam jars and lids from the boiling water using metal tongs. Place top down on a baking tray covered in a clean tea towel.

9. Carefully place the tray with the jars and lids on it into the oven.

10. Check the jam – it’s done when it resembles thick honey.

11. Turn off the heat and allow the jam to cool for 1 – 2 minutes before skimming any foam off the top of the mixture using a clean metal spoon.

12. Quickly remove jam jars and lids from the oven. Using metal tongs, turn the jam jars upright on the baking tray. Using a clean metal ladle, transfer the hot jam into the hot jars.

Quickly put the lids on, pressing down firmly as you screw the lid tightly into place. Leave to cool to room temperature and label the jar. The jam should keep for many months in a cool, dry place. Refrigerate after opening.

Enjoy!

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2 Responses to “Plum Jam”

  1. Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche January 7, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    This looks so easy! What’s the purpose of using hot jars, is it just for more sterilisation, or something else?

    • Jess - cloudberrydreams January 7, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

      The hot jars are just for sterilisation. Also, I guess putting boiling hot jam into cold jars would probably shatter the glass, so that’s probably part of it! It really is easy though, let me know if you give it a try! 🙂

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