Summer is the perfect time to stock up on jam and preserves; yes jam may not be the first thing that comes to mind when there is so much beautiful fresh fruit around that is delicious just as it is, but if you happen to have some that is a little less than perfect or past it’s best then making jam is one of the best ways to use it up and make the most of it.
When I found a big bag of plums on offer I just couldn’t resist them, and I knew exactly what I wanted to make – jam. I toyed with a few different ideas for additions (most of them booze of varying varieties…), I didn’t want to make a plain plum jam, and in the end settled on amaretto because I just love the combination of plum and almond. It turned out amazingly! I polished off an entire jar within a couple of days of making it, I just couldn’t stop going back for another slice of toast and jam, it is pretty much what I lived off of for two days…(the bread pictured is my delicious muesli bread, in case you were interested, which tasted fantastic with the jam).
The jam turned out such a beautiful bright red colour that you could be forgiven for thinking that it was artificially coloured…it’s not, though the colour will vary depending on the type of plums you use, mine were a mixture of purple and deep red. Jam may seem a little daunting to make, but it is actually incredibly easy, and at it’s most basic is simply a mixture of equal weights of fruit and sugar. Plums are naturally high in pectin, so there is no need to add any extra, it will set just fine without; so the recipe has a total of just four ingredients, plus a little bit of water. I ended up with three 370g jars and three 190g jars worth of jam, but it is always worth sterilising more jars than you think you will need, just in case.
- 1kg (35 oz) plums
- 250ml (1 cup) water
- 1kg (35 oz) granulated or preserving sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
- 45ml (3 tbsp) amaretto
- Wash, stone and quarter the plums. Place in a deep, heavy bottomed non reactive saucepan with the water. Bring up to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes until the plums are soft and have started to break down.
- While the plums are cooking sterilise your jars, heat the oven to 140C/275F/gas mark 1. Wash the jars and lids well in hot soapy water then rinse. Place a sheet of baking parchment on the shelf of your oven and place the jars and lids on top of it, making sure that they aren't touching (don't dry them), leave them in the oven until you need them (always sterilise more jars than you think you will need). Place three saucers or small plates in the freezer.
- Add the lemon juice and sugar to the plums and heat gently while stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring it up to a fast boil and boil for 10 minutes then remove from the heat and check for a set by putting a small blob of the jam on one of the frozen plates, put the plate in the fridge for a minute until the jam has cooled then push at it with a finger, if the jam wrinkles when you prod it, it is ready.
- If the jam isn't ready yet, bring it back up to the boil and boil rapidly for another five minutes, then remove from the heat and test for a set again. Repeat until the jam is set. Alternatively, if you have a thermometer, the jam should reach 105C/220F (setting point).
- Let the jam cool for about 10 minutes, then stir in the amaretto. Divide the jam between the hot jars (never add hot jam to cold jars, they may shatter) and place the lids on. Store in a cool, dark place and refrigerate after opening.