Because of the strange patterns of the weather this year we’re looking at bumper crops of Apples, Plums, blackberries – not to mention the mushrooms we talked about the other week.
However preserving all this stuff can be a bit of a headache. However I’ve got a great recipe for plum jam from Mary Norwak’s book Jams, Marmalades and Sweet Preserves.
The biggest problem with jam is getting the stuff to set. That means pectin aka glop aka polyglucuronic/galaturonic polysaccharides ( I did a D Phil on plant glop so trust me – I know the science 😉 ) Sometimes you just have to get out the artifical pectin bottle.
However not with plums – they are high pectin fruit. But Mary has a little trick to be sure to be sure.
All you need is 6 lbs plums, 1 pint of water and 6 pounds of sugar. (or 3 kilos plums and sugar and 500ml of water if you want to be tedious). This will make about 12 jars.
Take the stones out of the plums and boil them till they’re soft. Now comes the clever part – crack open about a dozen stones and take the kernels out. Mary says blanch them by putting them in boiling water but I just bung them in. This gives some extra setting power.
Then dissolve in the sugar and boil till it’s set. You can either boil till the temperature is more than 220 F if you’ve got a poncy cook’s thermometer like me or you can do it the old fashioned way by putting some on a saucer and waiting till you get a skin that wrinkles when you tip it after it cools. Guess what – the old fashioned way is more reliable as far as I can tell anyway.
I’ve done this two years running and the results have been spectacular.