This recipe is a great way to use up heaps of plums easily, and makes the most deliciously tangy, aromatic jam that goes just as well on roast turkey as it does on toast. It’s heavy on traditional festive spices, making it a perfect preserve to give as Christmas gifts. So file this away for when you find a tree dripping with ripe fruit, make up a batch, and put the jars aside for pressies!
In Victoria, Australia, you’ll find it hard to travel far in summer without coming across a wild plum tree covered in little red or yellow cherry plums. They may be less sweet than commercially available plums, but it’s a foolish forager indeed who passes up the opportunity to fill at least a few baskets of these beauties every year, as there’s loads of ways to make use of them in the kitchen.
- Fresh eating plums: great from lunchboxes to cheese boards
- Plum infused brandy, gin or vodka
- Dried fruit for use in Christmas cakes & puddings (it’s not called ‘plum pudding’ for nothing!)
- Cakes, muffins and slices
- Fruit leather
- Plum paste for cheese platters
- Stewed fruit to have with yoghurt, ice cream or porridge
- Plum gallette
- With roast chicken, duck or pork
- Fermented – into pickles when unripe, and into spirits when ripe
- And of course there’s plum jam
Our plum jam is shelf-stable for at least a couple of years if it’s prepared and stored properly, so take advantage of the abundant free fruit in summer and make heaps: you’re guaranteed to appreciate the homemade gifts when Christmas rolls around. To store preserves properly, it’s imperative to get your head around sterilising jars and bottles. It’s not hard, so don’t worry!
The Urban Nanna’s Festive Wild Plum & Port Jam
Plums (wild, homegrown, red, yellow – whatever you’ve got!)
Fresh lemon juice
* Spices are all optional. They add the festive flavour, but this would be just as tasty with simply cinnamon or vanilla instead. Ratios are up to you, but we had 4kg of plums and added 2 slices of orange, 2 cinnamon quills, 2 star anise, 6 cardamon pods and 8 cloves.
- Wash plums. Remove stems.
- Put in large pot. Half cover with water.
- Add orange and spices.
- Boil, then simmer until fruit is very soft.
- Take off heat. Allow to cool slightly.
- Transfer to a colander/sieve over a large bowl. Wash cooking pot now.
- Smoosh plums with large spoon until only pips and spices remain in colander. Compost or add to your worm farm.
- Measure pulp in bowl. Transfer to cooking pot.
- Measure sugar at a 3:4 sugar:pulp ratio. Add to pot, along with lemon juice and port. For our 4kg of fruit, we got 6 cups of pulp, and added 4.5 cups sugar, 125ml lemon juice (from 2 large lemons), and around 400ml port. This gave us 9x 200ml jars of jam.
- Sterilise jars and lids.
- Bring jam to boil, stirring so sugar dissolves. Boil vigorously (it’s called a ‘rolling boil’ when jam gets to that tumbling, billowing boil – like timelapse videos of thunder clouds building) until you reach a ‘set’.
- Take off heat.
- Carefully pour jam into sterile jars, wipe any spills off rims, then seal while jam is hot.
- Allow to cool, then label and pop away for wholesomely decadent Christmas presents!
- We use a nifty ‘China cap’ as our colander which is awesome for jam making.
- You may like to invest in a jamming funnel if you like preserving: it makes filling jars much neater and quicker.
- To test for a ‘set’, drip a little bit of jam onto a cold plate and pop in the fridge for 3-4 minutes. If it forms a skin that wrinkles when you run your finger through it, it’s considered ‘set’.
- You can increase the amount of sugar if you prefer a sweeter jam. A 1:1 ratio of sugar:pulp is fine; anything more would probably be tooth-achingly sweet.
- If your jam doesn’t set, don’t despair! Just label it as Spiced Plum Sauce, and enjoy it drizzled over roast meats; as the base of Christmas cocktails (it’d go beautifully with gin); or draped over yoghurt and/or icecream as a festive dessert.
- If you want to take it further and make a fruit paste, decrease the amount of water you allow into the pulp. Then treat the same way as the jam, but cook it for longer and make sure you stir almost constantly as it gets thicker, otherwise it will ‘catch’ and burn.
- You can also turn this fruit pulp & sugar mix (probably minus the port) into a fruit leather by spreading thick on baking paper-lines trays in a dehydrator for 12-16 hours on 55-60C.
So there you have it: a perfect way to make use of an abundant wild fruit and make delicious presents for next to nothing!
Here are some more wild food and jamming recipes to tickle your fancy…