Yesterday my mum came to visit me and she bought with her a kilo of ripe Victoria plums. All last night thoughts and recipes kept going through my head as to what I should make with them and I couldn’t decide. Should I make an upside down plum cake, some muffins, a crumble, jam, chutney, a crumble topped cake, in a tart etc…
Thankfully this morning I woke up and had somehow decided I was going to make jam. I have made plum jam once before and really loved its vibrant colour and plumy flavour and I think it was this memory that convinced me to make jam. My next thought was ‘do I want to make a plain plum jam or do I want to add another flavour?’ I considered adding another fruit such as apple or apricot but decided against it. I then thought about the possibility of adding ginger, cinnamon or almonds to the mix but in the end I decided to use vanilla.
There is something magical about watching these golden fleshed plumbs transform into a vibrant glossy pink colour as the colour leeches out of their skins. I used a vanilla pod rather than essence as I wanted to get a true vanilla flavour and the tiny seeds which got distributed throughout the jam make it look quite attractive. The smell as this cooked was wonderful, really fresh and fruity.
Once it had cooled I tried some on a scrap of bread and I got an instant burst of sweet plumy flavour with a lingering aftertaste from the vanilla that really works well. I left some of the vanilla pod in each jam jar, which I hope will intensify the vanilla flavour over time (that’s the black curl you can see in the larger jam jar). Mmmm delicious.
Victoria Plum and Vanilla Jam
1kg Victoria plums
1 vanilla pod
450g granulated sugar
Wash the plums to remove any dirt or bits of grass.
Cut the plums in half, twist apart and remove the stone and cut in half once more, removing any bad bruises.
Split the vanilla pod open lengthways and place into a large pan along with the plums and the water. Bring to a simmer and allow the plums to cook for 15-20 minutes until soft and broken down.
Meanwhile wash and dry three jam jars and place into a 120C oven to sterilise.
Slowly stir in the sugar and continue to stir until it has all dissolved and the mixture has turned clear and shiny.
Bring the mixture back to a rolling boil and allow to cook, stirring every few minutes to prevent the bottom from burning.
Once the mixture starts to feel more viscous, (thicker) conduct a setting test.
To do this, simply place a small amount of the jam onto a plate and place in the fridge for a few minutes. Then gently push your index finger through the pool of jam, if it crinkles slightly then the jam is ready. If not, then allow to cook for a few minutes more before testing again.
Once ready, remove the jam from the heat, extract the vanilla pod from the jam and take your jam jars out of the oven.
Place a strip of vanilla pod into each jar and then divide the jam between the jars (a ladle or mug works well), filling each one almost completely to the top, leaving only ½cm headspace.
Screw the tops onto the hot jars using a pair of rubber gloves to prevent burning yourself. Allow to cool before storing in a cool dark place for up to a year. Once opened, keep in the fridge.
Makes 3 x 420g jars or 2½ larger jars.
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