Preserving and making jam is hugely satisfying, and it’s actually quite simple once you know the basics. Plus, everyone gets to enjoy your hard work for the rest of the year, and you won’t tire of the compliments you’ll receive for your delicious homemade jam!
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When it comes to flavours, the options are endless; choose your favourite fruit, or make a combination of flavours — your jam will be in demand all year round.
How to make the best spiced plum jam
Make a big batch of this plum jam now and store it ready for winter, when the delicious spices will come into their own. It will keep for a good 12 months if jarred and stored correctly.
- 1kg plums (prepared weight) — about 11 plums — halved and stoned (slightly under-ripe are best, as they’re higher in pectin)
- 1 glühwein spice bag*
- 1 long stick of cinnamon
- zest and juice of 1 orange
- 1kg sugar
- 2 tbsp brandy
*If you can’t get hold of a glühwein spice bag, make your own. Simply place your spices — ½tsp whole cloves, ½tsp ground ginger and ¼tsp ground nutmeg — in the centre of a 12cm square piece of muslin or cheesecloth. Bring the corners of the cloth together and tie with string.
Step 1: Put the plums, spice bag, cinnamon, orange zest and juice and 250ml water into a preserving pan (or your largest stainless-steel pan). Cook gently for 15 to 20 minutes until the plums are soft; tough fruit skins will spoil the jam, so wait until the plums are very soft before adding the sugar. Scoop out the spice bag and the cinnamon stick and pour in the sugar and brandy.
Step 2: Stir over a medium heat until the sugar has totally dissolved, then bring to a rolling boil. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring to stop the bottom from catching.
Step 3: Remove from the heat, check for the setting point (see our tips below), then pour into hot sterilised jars. If it hasn’t reached setting point, keep simmering and checking for the setting point every 5 or so minutes.
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Tips for making the best jam:
Get the right equipment
- You must use a stainless-steel pan, as it won’t taint the flavour. The sloped sides of a wide preserving pan prevent hot jam spitting and allows liquid to reduce quicker. You can use a sugar thermometer to meausre the setting point (105°C), or try the wrinkle test (see below).
- No jars? We love the huge range available from Consol Glass.
Keep it clean…
- Sterilise all equipment, jars and lids to prevent bacteria getting in and spoiling all your hard work. Put on a baking tray in an oven at 160°C for 15 minutes, or boil in a large pan for 10 minutes, lift out with tongs and leave to air dry.
- Pour jam into hot, sterilised jars (using oven gloves!) before closing the lids.
Pectin and setting point
- Jam sets firmer when using fruit that’s high in pectin (like cooking apples, blackcurrants, raspberries and citrus fruit). Adding fresh lemon juice to low-pectin fruits helps you get a firmer set.
- To test for the setting point if you don’t have a thermometer, use the wrinkle test: When your jam is ready to test, remove the jam from the heat, spoon a blob onto a chilled saucer and return to the freezer for a minute. If the cooled blob wrinkles on the surface when pushed with your finger, it’s reached setting point.