high dumpsie dearie jam

perfect windfall jam
'tis the season to be foraging and scavenging for hedgerow treats and windfalls. Some mornings it is as if my garden has come under fire from pear cannons. The pears on my old pear tree have been thumping to earth like plump fruit bombs, leaving a trail of debris where they have exploded on impact or provided a tasty breakfast for the local wildlife (which include a noisy family of blackbirds, a couple of foxes and several squirrels, not forgetting the wood pigeons).

I have managed to scavenge several kilos of relatively undamaged pears and wanted to do these windfalls justice. Fossicking in an old cookbook of my late mother's, Farmhouse Cookery, I found a recipe that seemed appropriate for my windfalls and really rather delighted me. The cookbook was published in 1980 and was a compilation of traditional and historical British recipes from well-known food writers and food historians such as Elizabeth Ayrton, Jane Grigson, Mary Norwack and C. Anne Wilson. The jam and pickles section of the book is by Olive Odell and is a treasure trove of fabulous information and traditional recipes.

Odell says that High Dumpsie Dearie jam comes from Worcestershire, and I particularly like its wonderfully nonsensical name which beautifully reflects its hodgepodge makeup.

Skill level: Easy

1kg Bramley apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1kg pears, peeled, cored and sliced
1kg plums, stoned and sliced
juice and zest of 1 x small lemon
a knob of peeled ginger
1kg sugar


  1. Put the fruit and lemon juice in a large stainless steel pan. Add enough cold water to just cover the fruit. Bring to the boil, and then simmer for about 30 minutes.
  2. Add the zest and the knob of ginger and continue to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Fish out the ginger (unless you like your jam very gingery!), then add the sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring back to the boil and boil hard until the setting point has been reached (which may take 10 to 15 minutes).
  4. To test for the setting point, drop a small amount of the jammy liquid on to a cold plate. (Keep a plate in the fridge or freezer). After a couple of minutes, if the jam has reached setting point, a skin will start to form. if you shake the plate, the jam should "wrinkle".
  5. If the setting point has not been reached, return the jam to the boil and boil rapidly for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and test again. Repeat as necessary.
  6. Pot and seal.


  • This makes a brilliant fruit combination for a good old-fashioned crumble.


Kavey said...

Oh what a lovely post, really enjoyed it. From the bucolic first paragraph, to the second, with use of fossicking, which I loved... and then, yes what a marvellously named recipe!

Mandy said...

Rachel... Will try this as it is much more interesting than the recipe I have and I have plums, apples and pears in abundance... will soon be fossicking around myself looking for sloes for the sloe gin (won the village cup last year!!)