little plum jam

We have a big old plum tree in the centre of our back yard. Possibly grown from weed seeds, probably more than one plant growing in the same hole. The leaves grow lacy from cutleaf moth and parts of the bark are insect infested and crumbling. Parrots squawk overhead, dropping squishy plum missiles and birdshit onto the washing (reaching a crescendo just after Christmas as the plums ferment). G curses the plums on the grass and the path. And inevitably, despite feet wiping and shoes removing, track all through the house. He's much better at sweeping them up than I am.

Yesterday and Sunday I made plum jam (recipe here). These plums aren't great to eat on their own and they're a bugger to prepare but they make the best jam. Especially when made with a precentage of green fruit. The first batch is mouth puckeringly tart. Mum suggested that I could make some with ripe fruit as well, so for the second batch I left out the really green ones. It's still pretty tangy but that's the way I like it. If I get a chance, I'll make another batch when they're fully ripe. I think they're damson plums. If anyone knows for sure, please let me know.

First we pick and wash the fruit.

 Then we stone it. My hands are not recovered yet. I know, I should wear gloves, but it's too slow.

Put the jars in the oven before boiling the jam. Admire your super large preserving pan found at the opshop sometime in the nineties and mix all the sugar in. Wonder about the childminding arrangements. G agreed to look after Grace while the jam was boiling on Sunday but she wanted to help me. At one stage, I thought I was going to have burnt jam and hours of wasted preparation or much worse, a burnt child. Not that it was close, just that boiling four kilos of fruit and sugar on a low and wonky stove and supervising a toddler is beyond nervewracking (never again). The deal was supposed to involve G supervising Grace while I cooked, whether or not she wanted to be involved. So I could concentrate during the critical part. Mum knows how to do this. G dissappeared into his shed at the first sign thing looked OK. Which varies moment to moment with a two and a half year old. And I am still not the easiest person to deal with.

Anyway, I made the second batch yesterday. While Grace was napping. It was so much easier. I even stood at the stove and did some light mending. Alternating with stirring. Then I poured the jam into jars and listened for the snap of the cellophane covers shrinking.

I saw a stray pip and some froth. Talked on the phone about jam with a friend, neither of us goes for jam making perfection because it always turns out well enough. And always far better than shop jam. In odd parts of the day, I wondered whether I could have skimmed the froth more. I used to skim alot because that's how my nan taught me. I'm less and less inclined to skim now. What causes the froth? Is it sugar boiling or impurities in the fruit? And does it mostly go away by itself?  Looked to the internet for answers and the best I could come up with was this. Which didn't really answer my question.

Next up apricot. And maybe some of the little yellow plums which I've never jammed before. Must plant some damson pips in a pot. 


kim at allconsuming said...

I never skimmed the jam until every recipe I read tells me to - I think it has something to do with ensuring your jam isn't cloudy. Or something.
I made a batch of apricot jam and peach jam last week - sensational.

suse said...

My husband does that supervising for about 30 seconds thing and then wanders off. Pisses me off no end.
I do like Grace's woolly hat.

living is detail said...

Gorgeous images. I miss having a plum tree around even though they do get messy. I must try to plant one from a seed as you have suggested.

Shula said...

Those little plums, the really little ones? My mum used to cook them up in water, and then strain them overnight, add equal parts sugar to juice the next day, and jam it. Makes the most gorgeous jelly, and no pipping. Pipping sucks.
The sound of the jars vaccuum sealing as they cool is still one of my favourites in the whole world

Laura said...

I dithered for too long and only today discovered that the rosellas have already got most of our plums. Your jam looks delicious.

sooz said...

Doing the jam last thing at night, dog tired, collapse into bed. 10 minutes later I hear that sound.
"What the hell was that?" Asks D.
Funny how you learn things like the sound of a jar vaccuum sealing almost in your sleep...

Jessica said...

Have you tried this book?
Mes Confitures: The Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber by Christine Ferber and Virginia R. Phillips
The prepared fruit macerates overnight and boiling time is less than 10 minutes. Very easy, but anything with low pectin needs apple jelly or green fruit mixed in at the end.
I've used it for plum, apple, and cherry jam and it's worked beautifully.
Love your blog, so glad you're still writing.

Maggie Pie said...

Making jam requires military style planning...I'm usually making jam end of January when my dad's stone fruit ripen. Last year I tried making fig jam and was very pleased with the outcome.I like to make up xmas hampers with jam, nice tea or coffee etc. to give away at xmas. I've been reading your eloquent blog for well over a year. Have a peacful Christmas.

blue milk said...

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeautiful photos!