By Amy Chilver
When I got asked to write a blog about preserving, the first thing that popped into my head was the WI and Jerusalem. However, jam isn’t all about village fetes.
At home we have a little veg plot and orchard where my Dad grows all manner of fruit and veg, most of it quite odd-looking and half eaten by the local wildlife. However, it’s free and tastes pretty good. One tree which keeps giving us an abundance of fruit each year is our plum tree.
When we first start to pick the plums we’ll have them in our lunch boxes and stew them for pudding after tea, however after a week the sight of another bowl of freshly picked plums would fill me and my sister with dread. We were then given a recipe by our neighbour (who also has a plum tree and the same problem as us). The recipe plum and rum jam. This jam is rather special and one that my Dad waxes lyrical over. When the mornings are cold and crisp and winter has finally settled in, our weekend breakfasts usually start with a big bowl of porridge and a huge dollop of plum and rum jam. It certainly warms the heart and sets us on our way for the day.
The recipe isn’t long or complex and is often rustled up on an evening by my Dad, who by day is a logistics manager so you really don’t need any culinary pizzaz whatsoever. So here’s how to make plum and rum jam…..
1 kg (2 1/4 lb) plums washed, halved and stoned
1 kg (2 1/4 lb) granulated sugar
3 tbsp dark rum
Place the plums in a preserving pan or a large heavy-based saucepan with 250ml (9 fl oz) of water and bring to the boil.
Simmer for 30 minutes until the plums have softened then add the sugar and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
Bring to the boil. When the jam reaches a rolling boil cook for 5-10 minutes or until the setting point is reached. You can either use a thermometer, cook at around 105 degrees Celsius, that’s the temperature at which sugar forms a gel and can bond with the pectin, naturally occurring in the fruit. Monitoring the temperature can give you confirmation that you’re on the right track or use a cold saucer placing a small amount of jam on it pushing the jam along to saucer until it wrinkles.
Add the rum and mix well, then ladle it into sterilised jars, seal and label. Store in a cool, dark place and refrigerate after opening.
We reuse some of our glass jars to put our preserves in. We simply wash and remove the label, pop them into the oven on a very low heat for 15-20 mins to sterilise the jars, but don’t leave the jars in the oven with it turned on too high!
Preserving fruit and veg is nothing new but there are some top tips and exciting recipes that can make your pickings really stand out. They also make a great Christmas present, especially if you get that unexpected relative pop round…reach in the cupboard and voilà a little present ready to go.
Hopefully this has provided a little bit of inspiration for your fruit trees at home and to quote Bob I hope you like jammin’ too.