Summer produces a glut of glorious vegetables and fruit and this year is no exception! My mum’s plum tree has supplied family, friends and neighbours with an abundance of fruit. When there is so much to go round, there is only one thing do; bottle summer into a jar to enjoy later when the days are dark dismal and summer is but a dim distant memory.
This is one of the simplest recipes to make plum jam. It is lovely laced with cinnamon or a drop of port! Plums are high in pectin and should have no trouble setting as a jam.
Sterilising is a crucial part of jam and preserve making as it keeps bacteria, yeasts and fungi at bay. If the jars are sterile and sealed correctly, un-opened the jam will keep for a year.
4 tbsp water
2 tbsp/ half a lemon juice
1 knob butter, approx
3-4 jam jars
To sterilise jars
Oven Method: Wash the jars in hot soapy jars. Place the wet jars upside down on a baking tray. Place in the oven and turn the heat to 160º-180ºC leave for about 20 minutes, remove just before filling.
Microwave Method: Wash the jars in hot soapy jars; leave the jars a little wet. Microwave for 30 - 45 seconds depending on the size of the jar.
· Wash the plums, halve and remove the stones.
· Into a large heavy bottomed pan/ preserving pan place the plums with the water. Cook gently for about 10 minutes or until the plums are soft.
· Add the sugar and lemon juice – stir until the sugar has dissolved.
· Bring to the boil and boil rapidly, constantly stir the mixture until thickened slightly and syrupy. To check if the setting point is reached, either use a sugar thermometer which is 105ºC degrees or place a small saucer in the freezer for 5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, spoon a little of the hot jam onto the cold plate, return to the freezer for 2 minutes. Push finger through the jam on the plate - If it wrinkles and feels gel-like, it's ready. If it's not ready, turn the pan back on, simmer for five minutes and test again.
· When setting point has been reached, skim off the froth and add the knob of butter which will disperse the remaining scum. Stir.
· Ladle the hot jam into the sterilised jars, leaving a 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) gap at the top between the preserve and the lid. While everything is still hot, cover the jars with their lids or top with wax paper and cellophane secured with an elastic band.
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