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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. Its 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, youll 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 its a foolish forager indeed who passes up the opportunity to fill at least a few baskets of these beauties every year, as theres 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 (its 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
  • Chutney
  • And of course theres plum jam
Jelly, Paste and Fruit Leather are all options to make with wild plums

Planning ahead

Our plum jam is shelf-stable for at least a couple of years if its prepared and stored properly, so take advantage of the abundant free fruit in summer and make heaps: youre guaranteed to appreciate the homemade gifts when Christmas rolls around. To store preserves properly, its imperative to get your head around sterilising jars and bottles. Its not hard, so dont worry!

Early summer harvests include sweet peas, tomatoes, berries and daily helpings of wild plums.

To sterilise and prepare jars:

  • If reusing glass jars, soak them in HOT soapy water for 15 minutes or more. Dont try to use plastic jars for preserves: they cant stand the heat
  • (if removing labels, do this now)
  • Scrub thoroughly clean inside with a brush, and around the lip as well
  • Rinse well with hot water
  • Drip dry (doesnt have to be completely dry just get rid of most water)
  • Lay flat in the oven
  • Heat to 80-100C and keep there for at least 10 minutes
  • Remove just before filling, and fill when hot
Sterlising lids in boiling water

*To sterilise the lids, wash as for the jars, drip dry, and then put in a bowl of boiling water until needed. Remove with tongs and shake off as much water as possible before applying to bottles.

*You can run jars through the short wash cycle of a dishwasher as an alternative, but only do this if your machine gets them spotlessly clean, otherwise youll add bacteria which cause spoiling.

Right! So, thats how to prep your jars, now heres how to create your own homemade plum jam!

Cheap port is fine for this recipe

The Urban Nannas Festive Wild Plum & Port Jam

Ingredients:

Plums (wild, homegrown, red, yellow whatever youve got!)

Water

Orange slices*

Cinnamon quills*

Cardamom pods*

Whole cloves*

Star anise*

Sugar

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.

Method:

  1. Wash plums. Remove stems.
  2. Put in large pot. Half cover with water.
  3. Add orange and spices.
  4. Boil, then simmer until fruit is very soft.
  5. Take off heat. Allow to cool slightly.
  6. Transfer to a colander/sieve over a large bowl. Wash cooking pot now.
  7. Smoosh plums with large spoon until only pips and spices remain in colander. Compost or add to your worm farm.
  8. Measure pulp in bowl. Transfer to cooking pot.
  9. 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.
  10. Sterilise jars and lids.
  11. Bring jam to boil, stirring so sugar dissolves. Boil vigorously (its called a rolling boil when jam gets to that tumbling, billowing boil like timelapse videos of thunder clouds building) until you reach a set.
  12. Take off heat.
  13. Carefully pour jam into sterile jars, wipe any spills off rims, then seal while jam is hot.
  14. Allow to cool, then label and pop away for wholesomely decadent Christmas presents!
Rolling boil; wrinkle formed in set jam; sterilised jars out of the oven; pouring hot jam; wipe rims before sealing; use rubber tipped tongs when handling lids to prevent damaging them.

Notes:

  • 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, its 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 doesnt set, dont despair! Just label it as Spiced Plum Sauce, and enjoy it drizzled over roast meats; as the base of Christmas cocktails (itd 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!

Enjoy.

xo

NannaAnna

All these plums were foraged on common land in an eastern Melbourne suburb


This article originally published by theurbannanna on Mon, 18 Nov 2019 12:54:35 +0000 at _https://theurbannanna.wordpress.com/2019/11/18/wild-plum-and-port-jam/

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