Wednesday, April 02, 2008

When Life Gives You Plums....

.... Make plum jam!

I was given a big bag of plums from someone at work and thought I would make a batch of jam. Although I’ve been making chutneys and relishes for regularly for the last few years it seems like a frillion years since I made jam. Things were going great, my jars were sterilised, my fruit and sugar bubbling away.

... and then my mum phoned me – right in the middle of the “stir constantly” stage. Frick on a Stick! After a brief conversation I went back to my jam making; stirring, stirring stirring. I looked at the timer on the microwave and thought – great, only seven minutes and 23 seconds to go. WRONG! I’d forgotten to put the timer and was looking at the actual time on the microwave clock. Who knows exactly how long I’d been stirring; I know I started it when the news still on and that finished at 7.00 pm. The recipe called for cooking the jam for 18 minutes so I think I may have overdone it, just a tad.

Frick on a Stick on a Brick! ……my mother phoned again as I was pouring the jam into the jars. “What part of I’m in the middle of fricking jam making don’t you understand mother??? “ She got her own back when I phoned her later and managed to time my call to be right in the middle of her favourite soap - “What part of I’m watching Coronation Street don’t you understand?” she asked. I love you mum!

Actually it didn't set quite as hard as I thought it might. Mum tells me that the trick is to stir a little hot water into the jar and then keep your jar in the refrigerator. Another idea I read for overcooked jam is to use it in thumbprint cookies. I think Dorie Greenspan has a recipe in her book Baking: from my home to yours.

An article in a recent Essentially Food magazine on homemade preserves suggested that you should write down the time you start to cook something. Usually with cake baking it’s not so much of an issue because you can test for doneness with a skewer or see if it’s starting to brown or pull away from the sides of the tin. I usually go by the smell but sometimes by the time you can smell a cake it’s already overbaked. Given that I’ve forgotten to put the timer on twice in two days I think that writing down the time may be a very good suggestion to adopt.

My most recent timerless cooking fiasco before the plum jam was a chocolate cake which I ended up giving to the birds because I didn’t want my baking reputation at work to be besmirched. While I was breaking it into pieces I suddenly had the thought that I could have just split it, filled it with whipped cream and put a really nice ganache on top and that would probably have offset the dryness but by then it was too late. Oh well, never mind.

To make this a bit of fun, a free (and pre-loved/read I might add) cooking magazine to the first commenter who can tell me who I stole my expletive from.

Plum Jam
based on the Edmonds Cookbook recipe

2 kgs/approx 4 1/2 lbs plums
1 1/2 cups water
6 cups sugar

Place all together in a large pot
Bring to the boil
Skim out stones and skins as you go
Boil rapidly, stirring constantly, for 18 minutes or until jam tests set
(to test jam drop a teaspoon of jam onto a chilled saucer and leave for a moment. If you can run your finger through it and leave a clear trail your jam is good to go)
Bottle in sterilised jars


glamah16 said...

This spring Im taking out the canning stuff! This looks great.

Peabody said...

My mom just brought me some plum jam when she was on holiday. I am already down to just one jar. :(

Tammy said...

Plum jam is great in a crostata style tart. I bet it tastes fab!

Medena said...

Yummy! I have canned for the first time last fall, and I made TONS (25 jars) of plum jam! I can just eat it like that; I loved eating it hot, midway through the cooking process ;)
My recipe didn't have exact timing, so I am looking into that this fall.
I use it for spreading, for potato dumplings, and in baking! Delicious!

ntsc said...

With an accurate thermometer you are looking for 222+ F which I calculate as 105.5+ C, most of the time I pass the various other jam tests at this point.

Most of my work is marmalade however. And I hot water bath process for 10 minutes using sterilized jars.

I also do tomato stuff and pressure can low acid foods.

jasmine said...

It's been ages since I had plum jam. Your post is wonderful...and urging me to put plum jam on my autumnal to do list...


Louise said...

I made plum jam as well this summer past - and experienced the whole 'lose track of time caused by interruption' thing as well, so I can fully sympathise...

By the way - did you get your expletive from Elliot on Scrubs ?

Lore said...

I haven't made jam yet and thet's because of my mother. I remember my chilhood's jam fiascos and that's not encouraging at all :(.

chou said...

I love jam thumbprints, and think that plum jam would be fabulous in them. Yum.

Morven said...

So people do actually read my blog. YAY Louise - you are a winner. I'm definitely a Scrubs fan.

Email me at morvenATxtraDOTcoDOTnz and so I can get your address.

ntsc said...

Of course we read your blog. You are polite enough to post, we are polite enough to read.

barbie2be said...

this sounds yummy. i was just thinking about making strawberry jam. :)

Pixie said...

Hi Morven, not sure if you're aware of a current event I'm running but it's about preserving- so if you care to do so, hope you'll submit this lovely jam of yours!

Sophie said...

Yay! Jam. One of my favorite before-bedtime snacks is toast with jam :). I actually just made fig butter the other day, and I was so happy that it was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. These little jars of jam would make the perfect gifts - anything homemade is always a gift worth cherishing, and if it's tasty, that's even better :). Nice meeting you!

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