Victoria Plum Jam

Although Victoria plums have a short season, and it may be an old fashioned jam, but it has real flavour and really worth making . . . plums are cheap at the moment as they are in season !

  • 1.5k/3lb Victoria plums, washed & quartered
  • 200ml/7floz water
  • 1.5kg/3lb preserving or granulated sugar
  • 13g/1/2 oz. butter
1. Put the plums into a large heavy based saucepan or preserving pan with the water, heat gently and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the fruit is soft.

2. Still over a gentle heat, add the sugar on and off until dissolved, then add the butter and bring to a full rolling boil for at least 10 minutes.

3. Test for setting by putting a small spoonful on a small dish and place in your fridge for a few moments . . . if the jam wrinkles when you draw your finger along the surface, it is nearly ready for potting.

4. Allow the jam to sit for 15-20 minutes before potting , stirring on and off to make sure any scum has dissolved ( the butter helps greatly with this).

5. Ladle (I use a cup) into sterilised jars and if you use a jam funnel it will save the drips !
Note : Remove the stones from the plums when preparing, tie in a muslin bag and add to the jam while boiling . . makes it a lot easier to remove before potting up !

General Tips For Jams and Chutnies

If you can at all find the time to prepare your own Chutneys and Jams with the wonderful quality fruit that is so readily available from the shops and the hedgerows ! . . you will reap the benefit of all the flavours, colours, textures that makes it well worth while. You can’t beat homemade Chutneys as they are much easier to make than Jam, there is no worry about getting them ‘to set’ though it takes a much longer cooking time . . . but well worth every second of your time !

To start with here are a few tips about making Jams . . . For best results, use freshly picked dry fruit, jam that has been made from fruit picked in the rain is more likely to go mouldy in a shorter time, and if fruit is picked slightly under ripe, it contains more Pectin, which is the substance that sets the jam. Some fruits such as damsons, plums, blackcurrants and apples are naturally high in Pectin, but it is necessary to add acidity in the form of lemon juice, or commercial Pectin for berries like strawberries or raspberries to help setting.

It’s also best to make jams in small quantities using a preserving pan or choose your own widest saucepan with a depth of around 23cm/9”, the depth of the saucepan determines the time in which the jams cook and stops it boiling over. Sugar is also a preservative in jam, so it is important to use the correct proportions, too little and the jam will ferment, too much may cause crystallisation. ‘Jam Sugar’ is a great asset to making any jam, particularly raspberry and strawberry !

Make sure the fruit is soft before adding any sugar which has a hardening effect on fruit that no amount of boiling will soften ! Make sure also that the sugar is thoroughly dissolved before the jam comes to the boil, (heated sugar dissolves more easily). Stir well with a wooden spoon until the ‘grittiness’ disappears.

Fruit should be simmered until the sugar dissolves and then it is best brought to a full rolling boil continuing until setting point has been reached, hence the deep saucepan as the jam can boil over very easily. To check for setting, remove the heat, put a teaspoonful onto a chilled plate and leave for a few minutes in a cold place (possibly your Fridge). If the jam wrinkles when pushed with your finger, it’s ready to pot.

If you are making jellies, you can pot straight away. Any fruit jams should be allowed to sit after it’s cooked to make sure the fruit is well distributed, otherwise when potted, the fruit will rise to the top !

Make sure the jars are sterilised and to do this, wash in your dishwasher (with the lids separate), then place in a preheated oven 150C/gas Mk2/Aga simmering, oven for 20-30 minutes. It is important to fill the jars right to the top before adding the whiskey dipped disc . . all helping to avoid any bacteria (mould). It is also important to store your jams in a cool cupboard, where they will happily keep, if necessary until next year’s fruit comes along !