I love September. The air is crisper in the mornings, the sky has a misty blue quality and the leaves are slowly turning from dark green to a brick red. Summer has gone to seed in a manner of speaking, as has my waist line.
Riverford, the organic farms I get my weekly fresh veg from, (www.riverford.co.uk) had some end of season plums on for delivery this last week. I couldn't resist and bought 2 punnets. As we're not the biggest eaters of fruit, I didn't want to let them go to waste and decided to make plum jam. I remember when I was a child my mum used to make lovely plum jam, marmalade and lemon curd. I've also been watching Great British Menu which is celebrating the WI's centenary this season and well what can I say I got into the WI mode.
I played with a few recipes and created my own. There may have been a plum crumble influence and a dash of liqueur for good measure thrown in too. This recipe makes about 4 medium jars.
800 g Fresh, ripe, whole plums, washed
800 g Jam sugar - I used Tate and Lyle fair trade jam sugar
150 ml Water
1 Large cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 Whole star anise
1 Small lemon, juiced
2-3 Tbsp Port or Chambord, actually any dark fruit liqueur of your choice I imagine would work
Place the plums, cinnamon, star anise, lemon juice and water into a heavy based pot or a preserving pan if you have one. Bring to the boil and simmer on a medium to low heat for 15 - 20 minutes or until the plums are soft and falling apart. When they break up it is easy to scoop the pips out as they float to the surface.
Add the sugar, stir until it has all dissolved, then bring to the boil and keep at a rolling boil for 5–8 minutes or until the jam begins to thicken and reaches the setting point. Remove the pan from the heat while you test for a set. To test, smear a teaspoon of jam on a cold plate. If, when you swipe your finger through, it stays separated it is set. If the liquid binds together again continue boiling on the heat and keep testing every 30-40 seconds.
Discard the cinnamon stick, star anise, stir in the Port or Chambord, then ladle into warm sterilised jars, cover with waxed paper discs (if you don't have lids), seal, and label. Store in a cool, dark place, and refrigerate after opening
To sterilise your jars place them empty, in a large oven tray, half fill each jar with boiling water and put into an oven set at 250 degrees centigrade. Once the jars go into the oven turn the temperature down to 120 degrees and leave them for 25 minutes. Once finished remove from the oven and discard the water. Fill them straight away.
Eh voila! Homemade plum jam ready to give as gifts later on in the year or keep for your toast, croissants or a crispy baguette.
We are always looking for new recipes, if you have a great jam recipe please send it through. We'd love to hear from you.
Good food is very often, even most often, simple food. - Anthony Bourdain