My Spiced Plum Jam is a great way to make a glut of autumnal fruits stretch through the dark winter months into spring…
My paternal grandparents lived in a small village near Lake Ullswater in Cumbria. Their large sloping garden bordered a small stream at the bottom, in which I would spend hour upon hour of my summer holidays splashing in the icy water.
The garden was split into three tiers. The top lawn was more ornamental – despite the grass being studded with the occasional stone to mark out the final resting place of a much-missed family pet. The final two parts of the garden were my grandfather’s vegetable plots where an abundance of produce was separated with wooden planks to form make-shift walkways.
Occasionally sheep would escape from the field on the other side of the stream and wonder in to the garden to nibble on the cornucopia, before my Granny would roar down the path and shoo them on their way. Whatever the sheep didn’t get at would make its way up to the house and into either the chest freezer in the garage or the upper shelves of my Granny’s pantry. My brother, cousin and I were fascinated by this pantry – and not only because Granny always bought superior chocolate biscuits than the ones we had at home! The upper shelves were piled high with jams, chutneys, and pickles – including jars of pickled eggs which I must admit seemed almost exotic to me at the time… I can still vividly picture myself at child height, craning my neck to look high up into the dark.
Of all this produce on offer, the food I most associate with my grandparents is plum jam. My Granny would make jars of the crimson preserve from a tree in the garden and there would always be a plentiful supply.
I too now have a plum tree in my garden and while I do not have my Grandmother’s recipe, I have created this version in her honour. My plum jam recipe is pepped up with the addition of orange zest, ginger, dried spices (I use my Pumpkin Spice Mix) and a nip of brandy to give a warm Granny hug on the coldest of winter days.Print
- 2kg Plums
- 1kg white granulated sugar
- 1kg Demerara
- 2tsp mixed spice (preferably Pumpkin Spice Mix)
- 1cm Root Ginger – finely grated
- 60ml Calvados or Brandy
- 1 Orange – Zest and Juice
- Begin the day before you want to make the jam. Wash, destone and quarter the plums. Place into a large bowl. Add the juice and zest of the orange, the dried mixed spices, finely grated fresh ginger root and both types of sugar. Toss everything together, cover and place the bowl in the fridge and leave overnight. The sugar will draw liquid out of the fruit and help to soften the plums.
- The next day, place two saucers into the freezer. You will use these to test the jams setting point later on. Decant all the fruit and syrup into a large, sturdy pan – being sure to scrape every last bit of spice and zest out of the bowl. Over a low heat, gently warm the pan, stirring every so often until all of the sugar has dissolved.
- Meanwhile, wash and sterilise your jam jars. I find that this recipe yields enough to fill six 0.5l Kilner jam jars. I clean my jars in the dishwasher before placing on a tray in a preheated oven at 120C, 250F, Gas Mark ½ for 10-15 minutes. I plunge the lids into a pan of boiling water for several minutes before lifting out with tongs.
- Turn up the heat and bring the pan to a gentle boil. Stir the mix periodically to stop it from catching on the pan and as the plums start to break down, crush them against the side of the pan with the back of a wooden spoon. After about 30 minutes, insert a jam thermometer and boil until it reads 105C. This should be the setting point for the jam but to test, drop a little onto one of the chilled saucers you placed in the freezer. Allow the jam to cool for around a minute before gently pushing the edge with a finger. The jam is ready when the blob crinkles as you push with your finger – as if a skin has started to form over the jam. If this doesn’t happen immediately, return the pan to the heat and repeat the test again after a few more minutes of boiling. Keep going until the jam passes the crinkle test.
- Once you are happy with the consistency of the jam, remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir through 60ml of Calvados or Brandy. Be careful as the hot jam will fizz up with the addition of the alcohol.
- Ladle the hot jam into the warm, sterilised jam jars and quickly seal with the lids. Allow to cool completely before labelling and storing in a cool cupboard.
- Enjoy smothered onto hot buttered toast or pikelets.
- Prep Time: 24 hours
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: jams and preserves
- Cuisine: British
Keywords: autumn fruits, breakfast, jam, preserves, fruit jam, plum jam, plums, spiced plums, fall fruits