Wednesday, 15 August 2012

first plum jam

We have two plum trees in our garden. These tiny wild cherry plums: sweet and zingy with dark skin and yellow flesh, and Victorias: big, luscious and fragrant.

These little sharp ones come first. They start ripening in early/mid-August and they come and go in a week, so you have to harvest and use them quickly. Some years I miss them all together!

The ground at the "orchard" end of our garden starts smelling fruity and alcoholic as a rain of ripe plums showers down faster than you can pick them up! Some go to the birds and bugs, but lots come in to us. They are best in cooking, so cue lots of cakes and, of course, jam.

My first batch of jam of the year is always a pleasure. Unfortunately this year I happened to be incredibly tired on the night I made it, so I rushed it (dreaming of crashing out in bed) and consequently the consistency is gooier than it should be. It's best to keep stirring a lot - even though that cools the jam down and makes it set more slowly - because you keep the temperature more even throughout the pan.

I always have fun packaging my jam and making the labels. I bought some beautiful labels in France on holiday but they are the wrong shape for these jars, so I'm saving them for future batches.

If you'd like a failsafe tutorial for making plum jam, you can find my mum's recipe on one of my earliest posts on this blog, here. The only thing I'd add is that my mum always says you can't make plum jam with bought plums - it's part superstition, part truth. Before I had my own trees I used to go out in Cambridge with a friend and find trees that were overhanging public paths and take the fruit there!

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