We're jammin' 1 stones-in plum jam
It's definitely harvest season when you need two jam pans cooking at the same time to keep up with all the fruit that needs storing!
Home made jams and jellies taste lovely. They make great gifts and use up fruit that otherwise would- usually- have ended up rotting due to just having too much of the stuff. They're also fairly low effort (jellies less low effort than jams- but still not too bad).
These are generic recipes- you can use them with pretty much any fruit. I usually make bramble jam because it's easier- but there were requests- and assistance- for jelly making so, bramble jelly it is!
I rarely take stones out of plums or damsons for jam making: I like the slightly almondy flavour the stones give the jam, plus, it's easy to spot and remove the stones once the jam is on toast. And the labour of taking stones out gets distributed to whoever is eating the jam. But make sure you warn people if you leave stones in!
For every 1kg fruit, you will need 1kg (or a little under) of sugar.
Add a little water to the pan to stop the fruit sticking. This water will have to be boiled back off to get the jam to setting point, so use at little as possible!
You can use commercial pectin to make your jam or jelly set more easily- or add a few chopped apples for the same effect. Blackberries contain little pectin so are difficult to set without overcooking the jelly. Plums set VERY easily as a rule- be careful not to overcook them or the jam will set like rubber!
You will also need:
A large pan (adapt your jam quantities to fit the pans you have- the plum pan above contains 3kg plums and 3kg sugar in that picture).
A long wooden spoon
A china plate or jam thermometer
Lots of sterile jam jars and lids (see bottom of post for how to sterilise jars)
A ladle- or you can pour the jam if you're strong and careful not to splash- jam burns horribly!
A jam funnel (optional) to avoid making a mess...
Gently heat the sugar, fruit and a little water until the sugar has all dissolved in the fruit juices.
Increase the heat and boil the mixture.
Every so often, drip a small amount of jam onto a cold china plate. After the jam has chilled, run a finger through it. If there is a skin on the jam that wrinkles, the jam is ready to put in jars. Or, use a jam thermometer and wait until the temperature hits the jam set point (I find the plate method more reliable- 102 degrees is theoretically the right temperature for jam to set- but probably works best if you've added pectin or something?).
Put the jam into jars and seal the lids.
If any lids don't seal, refrigerate these jars and use within a few weeks. All sealed jars should keep for a couple of years at least, if kept in a cool dark place.
Next time- bramble jelly!
And, copied directly from the rhubarb and orange marmalade recipe from May, here's how to deal with jam jars:
Jam jar preparation
There are lots of ways to sterilise jars (and lids) for use. This is the one we usually use.
· Wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water with some bicarbonate of soda added (bicarb is optional). If you leave the jars to soak for a while, the labels usually come off easily.
· Do not dry the jars or lids.
· Put the lids in a bowl or pan and pour over boiling water. Leave covered (with a plate or lid).
· Put the jars on their sides or upside down in the oven at 160 degrees C for at least 15 minutes.
· Once your marmalade (or other preserve) is ready, take the hot jars out of the oven and fill them straight away, taking care to keep the rims of the jars clean (this is where a funnel is helpful).
· Use a clean wet cloth to wipe any spilt jam off the rims or the jars will not seal properly and bacteria or fungi could get in.
· Screw your lids onto the jars, tightening them using a clean tea towel so you don’t burn your fingers (or follow the instructions on the cellophane jam jar lids pack).
· As the jars cool, you will hear popping noises from the lids as the safety buttons pop down- this is a good sign that your jars have sealed properly.
· Once the jars are cool, push any safety buttons that haven’t gone down in and see if they stay down and check that any lids without safety buttons curve down a little in the middle.
· Any lids with safety buttons that pop up haven’t sealed properly- store them in the fridge and use them first. If you are concerned that any other jars haven’t sealed, store them in the fridge too.
· Properly sealed jars should keep in a cool dark place for at least a year.
* If selling your preserve it is recommended that you do not reuse lids, as the plastic seal on the inside can be damaged after the first use, risking the jam spoiling. We find lids are generally fine for reusing a number of times at home: Check that there is no visible damage to the inside of the lid, such as dents, scratches or rust spots on the plastic. Do not reuse lids (or jars!) with any signs of damage. Preserves containing vinegar are particularly problematic with damaged lids due to the acid reacting with the iron in the lid.
* Never put hot substances into cold jars- the change in temperature between the inside and outside of the jar can crack it, wasting your newly made preserve!
Alternatively, you can sterilise a few jars at a time by putting them damp into a microwave (check carefully for how long you need to do this depending on the power of your microwave) or using a hot cycle of a dishwasher timed to end a bit before your jam is ready.
NEVER put metal jar lids into a microwave!