( MAKES 7 x 350g jars )
Photo by Tam West
My very first jam memory was of my grandmother. She made a dark, rich, glossy jam that was sweet and sharp. It tasted just amazing on hot buttered toast when we would visit her on the way home from school. I later learned that she used damsons — small, dark and purple they are considered the king of plums for jam making.
Any plums can be used for this recipe but the darker fleshed varieties look nicer. It’s the kernels and the lemon juice that will help to set the jam. Keep a small pile of saucers in the freezer to make the testing easier. Warming the sugar speeds up the jam-making process. The faster it is made, the fresher and more delicious the taste. If you add cold sugar it will take longer to return to the boil.
- Wash and pick out any debris from the plums, cut in half and remove the stones, place in a saucepan.
- Use a hammer to crack 8 plum stones to get the kernels, wrap in muslin, tie with string and add to the plums.
- Add water and simmer gently for 1 hour, stirring regularly to prevent sticking, then add lemon juice.
- Heat sugar in the oven at 140C for 10 minutes. Add to the pan, bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often and skimming when necessary.
- Remove from heat. To test if set, put a teaspoonful onto a chilled saucer taken directly from the freezer (the surface of the jam should wrinkle when a spoon is pushed through it). Allow the jam to settle in the pan for 10 minutes.
- Spoon into hot, sterilised glass jars and seal immediately.
More preserves from Geoff
How to sterilise jars
Give your jars a good wash in hot soapy water, then rinse off well. Before you start, make sure you have the correct lids and or seals that fit all your jars, and you have enough. There are a few techniques that work well — put them through the dishwasher then place them in the oven (lying on their side) at 120C for 15 minutes, fan or normal bake, or carefully put them into a large pot of boiling water for 10 minutes, then allow to drain upside down on a clean tea towel. Metal seals, lids and bands can be sterilised by placing in a metal bowl and, just before using, pour boiling water over and leave for a few minutes.