I always enjoy watching our Plum Tree as it is the most obvious indicator of the change of seasons. White blossoms are the early signs that Spring is approaching and very soon, green leafy buds appear. When you look again, the blossoms have been replaced by beautiful bright green leaves. As the days grow warmer and longer, the fruit finally appears and it is an absolute joy to watch them turn from tiny green baubles to plump dark red fruit.
It’s then a mad dash to get to them before the birds do but we inevitably have to share them with the local wild life. I try to rationalise that they get to keep the ones that are on the ground and I get the ones in the tree, but they haven’t quite cottoned on to that arrangement yet.
And beware the thieves who stole all the fruit from our tree a couple of years ago. I was furious that someone would have done that and made quite a noise in the neighbourhood so for the last two years our tree has been left alone – thankfully. Perhaps my squawking reached the ears of the guilty, or perhaps it coincided with the move of the family with 75 children (only kidding, but it always seemed that way) that used to live across the road – but no matter, we’ve been able to enjoy our delicious fruit since then.
One year I made Plum Chutney which was delicious, but last Summer I came across this recipe and fiddled with it a bit, as I wanted more of the fruit and less of the sweet sugary-ness. It also contains no Pectin which, without going into too much scientific babble, requires a lot of sugar to thicken the consistency. Jams bought from supermarkets are so full of sugar you’re lucky if they have any fruit in them at all. My son recently pointed out that we should do the same with the Loquat fruit as well, but so far the Wood Pigeons always devour them before I realise they’re ripe. I see they’re appearing so perhaps I’ll do some experimenting soon.
But back to my Plum jam. I set about making my first jam. It really is very easy, although the entire process takes about two days to complete because you bring the mixture to a slow rolling boil four times, being careful not to let the mixture catch on the bottom of the pot. And although I can’t give exact measurements because you need to adjust it to the quantity of fruit that you are able to harvest, I’ll give it a bash.
1 kg ripe plums
1 cup castor sugar
glass canning jars with lids
- Wash the plums well. Halve and remove the pips. Place cut fruit into a large bowl.
- Pour the sugar over the fruit and allow to stand at room temperature for about an hour (called mascerating – see Tips for a definition of masceration). You can always add more sugar during the cooking process if it isn’t sweet enough. Most, if not all of the sugar will dissolve.
- Transfer the plums and sugar mixture into large pot.
- Bring the mixture to a rolling boil keeping it uncovered. You do have to keep an eye on it though as it needs to boil evenly so if you see it only bubbling in the middle or around the edges, give it a gentle stir. Once it is bubbling evenly, turn the heat down slightly and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat completely and leave it to stand on the stove top until cooled to room temperature.
- Repeat step 4 three more times over the next day or so. There is so much sugar in it that it won’t spoil being left on the benchtop or stove overnight. If you prefer a thicker consistency, simply repeat step 4 another couple of times. Each time more liquid evaporates, thickening the mixture. You need to pay close attention each time you boil it though as it may catch on the bottom far more easily due to there being less liquid in the pot.
- The last time you boil it, you will need to transfer the mixture to sterilized jars.
- See Tip below to follow instructions to sterilize jars and lids.
- Carefully remove the jars from the oven and using a funnel or spoon, transfer the boiling mixture into the jars leaving about 1 – 2 cm space from the top.
- Increase the oven temperature to about 160°C.
- Screw the lids on sufficiently to keep a tight seal, but not too tight as air bubbles need to be able to escape. Return the tray with the full jars and lids to the oven and leave for 15 minutes.
- Carefully remove the tray from the oven. Don’t tighten the lids more as this may affect the seal already in place.
- Flip the jars upside down and leave to return to room temperature.
To sterilize the jars:
Wash the jars and lids in warm soapy water.
Place the jars onto a baking tray and into the oven for 20 minutes at about 100°C until completely dry.
Boil the lids for 5 minutes.
Follow steps 8 – 12 above.
Click here to find the current US Complete Guidelines to Home Canning.