|perfect plum jam|
Towards the top of the hill, there lived a troop of wild monkeys, led by the most alpha male of all. His Fat Highness would sit in a clearing by the side of the road at dusk, surveying his monkey gang, to ensure that none of them had something that he didn't such as food; he looked like some kind of malevolent monkey Buddha.
He would literally steal food from the mouths of babes (his own), would chase his harem around for any morsels of food that they might have foraged, while the scrawny boys of the troop looked on somewhat skinny-ribbed and mournful.
Every few months or so, my mother would drive up to the clearing in early evening with a swag bag of rotten fruit to feed the monkeys. We would throw the fruit out of the car windows, before winding the windows up pretty sharpish, to keep the monkeys at a distance.
My mother would always include several plums in the mix, which surprised me since I knew how much she liked them herself and was surprised that there were any plums in the house that were hanging around long enough to over ripen. But it turned out that my mother had a cunning plan.
She had realised that His Royal Greedyguts adored plums. They were clearly one of his favourite things in the whole world; he was positively serene with delight, indulging in his fruity gluttony, while gorging on the sweet and sticky plums as juice trickled down the matted fur of his now stuffed gob.
While His Royal Tubbiness was cramming as many plums into his mouth as possible, he couldn't chase after other bits of fruit that we were offloading and there was a chance that the other monkeys could get their share of my mother's fruit largesse, without having to fend off the rapacious hands of His Rotund Gluttoness. See what I mean? It was a cunning plan.
While I don't think I have malevolent monkey tendencies, I am rather fond of plums and a glut of these brings out the glutton in me too. Here is the perfect way of having sweet juicy plums all year around.
Skill level: Easy
1kg ripe plums
1kg granulated sugar
1 x fresh lemon, juice and zest
1 tbsp plum brandy or kirsch
1 x vanilla pod
- Halve the plums and discard all but about 10 of the plum kernels.
- Halve the plums again and put in a large stainless steel or aluminium saucepan. Add the lemon juice, zest and plum brandy.
- Place the vanilla pod on a chopping board and make an incision with a sharp knife along the length of the pod. Using a teaspoon or blunt knife, scrape out the seeds and put them into the saucepan. Reserve the pod, which can be added to caster sugar to make vanilla sugar.
- Add the plum kernels to the fruit too, although you will need to fish them out before potting the jam. If you can crush them, all the better. They will add a slight flavour of almonds to the jam.
- Bring the jam to the boil and gently boil for 10 to 15 minutes until the setting point has been reached. You won't need to use pectin to help the jam to set since plums are naturally high in pectin.
- Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before potting in sterilised jars. Keep in a dark place or if opened, in the fridge for a month.
- The jam is ready to eat immediately.
- Works very well with greengages or apricots.