I love making jam. I don’t know why or how I came to love making jam, but I do.
Maybe it has something to do with my mum and aunt making it when I was younger, I don’t know.
The first time I ever made jam, it was a marmalade actually, was when I had a whole heap of oranges and very little time to eat them because I was going away for a couple of months. Terrible forethought on my part, might I add!
It turned out to be the nicest marmalade, it was beautiful and clear and had a lovely flavour and consistency. So I guess there is where my love of making jam began, by nailing it the first time round! To bad I couldn’t keep that up!
Since then I’ve had a couple of failures but mostly winners. I tend to stray from recipes and try out things that I think might work but end not as well as I hoped or I double a recipe that just doesn’t double very well (I’ve never really understood why this is).
The base for this particular jam comes from Mrs Beeton’s Jam Making book that my mum inherited from her mum and that I have now claimed. It’s a gorgeous old book published in 1924 and is in surprisingly good nick! I love old books so using this one to cook up some yummy jam is so satisfying. I hope you enjoy my slightly modified plum jam!
- 1.5kg Plums (I used black plums)
- 800g White Sugar
- 1 Lemon halved
- 2 Vanilla Pods
- Chop the plums into halved segments. I find it easiest to do this while they're still on the pip. Keep the pips! These will be added when you start to cook the jam. Plum pips are very high in pectin so are perfect for helping the jam set.
- Once all your plums are chopped, put them with the sugar into your jam pot and give them a good stir. Let them sit like that for 1-2 hours. I'm not sure if this step is 100% necessary, but that's what Mrs Beeton says to do!
- Place on the stove top, and bring to a boil over a medium heat.
- Cut the vanilla pods in half (longways) and add to the pot along with the lemon (squeeze out as much of the juice as possible and then add the skin as well, don't stress, these will be removed before bottling). The lemon can be optional. I like to add it because it also contains pectin which will help the jam set and it adds a little tartness to the very sweet jam. Also at this point bag the pips in some muslin or the toes of a stocking (clean preferably!) and add to the pot.
- Put a small plate in the freezer to test the jam when its nearly done.
- Let the jam bubble away for about an hour, stirring it regularly.
- Now its time to start testing to see if your jam is ready! To do this get the plate out of the freezer and put a teaspoon of jam on to it. Place in the fridge for a couple of minutes. Push your finger through the jam to see if its set. What you're looking for is the jam wrinkling up and not flooding back in to fill the gap when you push it.
- Ok, so once the jam is at setting point it's time to jar it! This recipe makes approximately 5 medium sized jars.
- Sterilize your jars with a bit of hot soapy water and 10 minutes in 100ºC oven.
- Remove the lemon skins and the pip bag from the jam.
- Fill the jars up and put the lids on straight away, making sure there isn't any excess jam around the jar rim. Let them cool. During the cooling process the air inside contracts and seals the jar. You may hear some popping sounds as the lids seal. If you push on the top of the lid and it still moves, it hasn't sealed and you should probably use that jar first! But as long as the rim was clean, the lid was on tight and the jam was super hot, they should seal perfectly!
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