Monday, 29 August 2011

Wild Plum Jam

Wild Plums make the most amazing jam.  I picked mine from an abandoned orchard behind the Wheatsheaf Pub in  Leybourne/West Malling  (ME19 5AT).  It's worth a visit as there are loads of apple and plum trees with the fruit just going to waste.  I think these are Mirabelles - though some pictures show Mirabelles as Yellow.  Whatever they are, they're delicious - and they make great Wild Plum Gin too!

Wash and weigh the fruit, removing any stalks, leaves or bruised fruit.  I leave the stones in and remove them during the cooking process - but you could take them out before if you like.

This picture shows 4lb plums.  Add about 1 pint water and bring to the boil, simmering slowly until the fruit is soft but not mushy.  As the plums get warm and slightly softer I remove the stones at this point - just with my bare hands, squashing the fruit and taking out the stone - but you could do it later if you like.  It's a pain in the neck but also therapeutic at the same time!

Once the fruit is soft add 1lb of granulated sugar for every 1lb of fruit (so I used 4lb sugar) and heat slowly to dissolve the sugar.  If you boil it before the sugar disolves it will crystalise.  My Granny used to heat up bags of sugar in the oven to avoid this happening but I just leave it on a very gentle heat, stiring from time to time, until all the sugar has dissolved.

Then, bring it to the boil and heat rapidly (it should be furiously bubbling) for about 10 mins or until setting point is reached (104c).  I have tried various methods to determine this, including a jam thermometer, but the best one is my Mum's trick of holding the wooden spoon up high above the jam.  If the juice just runs off it's not ready yet, but if it forms a slow drop that looks sryupy then it's done.  Very technical!  I think slightly runny jam is better than a solid brick so don't boil it too long.

Pour into sterilised jars, seal and label.  Perfect!

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