Our first 'Fruits of the Garden' course has begun and this recipe was the first of the jams that we created.
A hint of wine can impart a sophisticated and adult flavour to jam. I discovered a fairly ancient bottle of Cabernet d'Anjou recently. It was past its best for drinking, but made an excellent concentrate for the jam.
We used small golden plums picked from the Circle of Misse garden. They have a sweet and intense flavour, but one must not forget that once heated the skin will raise the tartness of the fruit.
Natural or powdered pectin can be used for this jam. We simply used the plum stones (a reasonable source), with a couple of apple cores (an excellent source) and wrapped them in muslin\cheesecloth.
A copper preserving pan isn't necessary but they provide an excellent and even heat source. As the pan remains unused for most of the year, we prepared it with an acidic rub, lemon halves (or vinegar) with salt works well; this will remove any tarnish. Once cleaned we filled it with water and brought it to the boil. The water was then poured out and the pan dried.
We used cabernet d'Anjou rosé for this jam because it is a local wine, not too dry and an excellent match for the fruit. Mateus rosé would be another good choice.
As with apricots, the plum kernels or stones, once cracked, impart an excellent flavour. We did this with about 10% of them.
- 1⁄3 of a bottle of rosé (Mateus would work well)
- 2.5 kg\5lb of ripe plums
- 1.5kg\3lb of sugar
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- 3-4 apple cores
Tools of the Trade
- A skimmer or large spoon to remove any scum that rises.
- A ladle and\or funnel
- Jam jars, sterilised.
- We ran all of the above through a full dishwasher cycle then placed them on a tray in the oven at 130°C\250°F\gas mark ½ until we were ready to bottle
- A piece of muslin\cheesecloth (the size of a hankerchief)
- Cook's thermometer
- Preserving lids with rubber bands
Wash the fruit and place in a colander\sieve to dry. Cut or break the plums in half and remove the stones. Crack roughly 10% of the stones with a mallet and wrap these, along with the rest of the stones and the apple cores, in the muslin\cheesecloth.
Place the wine in a pan and reduce it to ¼ of the original volume (see photo above). Be careful not to let it burn.
Place the fruit in the pan over a medium heat and sitr until juices start to run from the fruit. Add the lemon juice, sugar and muslin\chessecloth parcel. Stir until all of the sugar has disolved, then increase the heat.
Bring to the boil and skim off any scum that rises to the surface as this can sink and stick to the bottom of the pan. There is no need to stir at this time.
Place the thermometer in the jam. It will be ready when it reaches the setting point 105°C\220°F.
A thermometer takes the guess work out it, but we encouraged everybody to test without a thermometer. The key is to test early and often. Put a teaspoon of the jam on a cold saucer and leave to stand for 15 seconds. Hold the plate at a steep angle and look to see if the surface of the jam wrinkles. If so, it has reached setting point and is ready to bottle.
Remove from the heat and stir gently to ensure even distribution of the fruit.
Remove the jam jars and bottling equipment from the oven and place on a clean sterlised surface.
Ladle or funnel the jam carefully into the jars, leaving a small space at the top (see photo) of the jar.
If using metal lids\caps, leave the jam to cool for 10 minutes. If using flexibile plastic lids, dampen one side of the plastic. Place the dry side over the jam jar and gently stretch and smooth down the sides. Fix in place with a rubber band.
Add ½ cup of hazlenut, almond or walnut pieces once the jam has been removed from the heat source. Stir to ensure even distribution before bottling.