For a bit of pick-me-up in the dark winter days ahead, I warmly recommend starting your day with a little bit of autumn sunshine spread on your morning sourdough. Plum jam is not just easy to make and deliciously fragrant, it looks so vibrant it’s just what’s needed to brighten up your breakfast table.
I recently discovered a type of plum that I had never come across before. It didn’t look like much – the skin was what can only be described as dull and beige. The punnets sat unloved, stacked on a pallet at a favourite Fenham greengrocer’s. The advantage was that they were cheap – perfect for jam-making.
Once I got them home and cut into the fruit, I was greeted with bursts of intense red ranging from the zing of a berry sorbet to the depth and richness of a great Rhône wine.
These ‘Green Red’ plums make a great tasting garnet coloured jam. I make my jams with 80% sugar to fruit, which means they are a little more runny than regular jams but a lot fruitier. That’s how my mum makes jam and she makes the best jams in the world.
Plum jam recipe
for 1kg of plums
800g granulated sugar
juice of one lemon
knob of butter (optional)
The night before you cook the jam, stone the plums and cut them in quarters or smaller into a non-metallic bowl. Add the lemon juice and the sugar. Cover and leave to stand overnight.
The next day sterilise your jam jars by washing and rinsing them, and then putting them in a warm oven until they are dry. Keep them warm in the oven until ready to fill.
Place a small plate in your freezer ready for the ‘setting point’ test later.
Transfer the fruit and sugar mixture to a large heavy-based pan. Slowly bring to the boil, stirring to ensure the sugar has completely dissolved.
Cook on a high heat, stirring every now and then to make sure the mixture doesn’t burn at the bottom of the pan. It can take a while to get to the setting point. Look out for the bubbles changing and the texture on your spoon getting more viscous. If the test on the cold plate doesn’t show the famed wrinkles, or a clear path traced by your finger, cook for another 10 minutes and test again.
Once your jam is set, scoop out any foam or disperse with a knob of butter. At this point my mum blitzes the jam roughly with a hand-held blender (she doesn’t like large pieces of fruit in her jam both for texture and because it makes the jam ‘go further’ – she’s the queen of thrift!). Fill and seal the warm jars and leave to cool before labelling.