I discovered this tree in my father’s back garden in rural Norfolk. He claims it’s a Cambridge Wild Plum, but my research proved fruitless (ha), and no such variety could be found. They are much like damsons – a tart, wild plum. I gathered as much fruit as I could carry, using Charlie’s stacking cups as vessels, and hurried the fruit back to London.
This jam recipe is as simple as they come. If you regularly make jam, you don’t need it, but I’m not a seasoned jam-maker, and always appreciate some guidance. So I read up, and am offering it out to you, my dear readers.
Don’t bother washing the plums. If they are wild, and above ground level, you can be pretty confident they’ll be free of any nasties. But do check them over, discarding any that have succumbed to rot or hungry bugs. Slit the plums with a knife. This will allow the stones to float to the surface during cooking so that they can be easily removed with a slotted spoon.
Place a small plate in the freezer, to test the jam for set later on.
Wash 4 x 450g jam jars, including lids, in warm soapy water (or your dishwasher). Place the jars in a warm oven (160°C/Gas 3) for 8-10 minutes to dry, along with a heatproof bowl holding the sugar. Turn off the oven. Boil the lids separately for 5 minutes, and leave to drain on a clean tea towel.
Put the fruit in a preserving/aluminium pan with 150ml water. Bring to a simmer over a low heat, and cook for 20 minutes until the fruit has broken down. Add the warmed sugar. Shake the pan gently to disperse the sugar. As soon as the sugar has dissolved (this will take about 10 minutes of gentle simmering), increase the heat and boil the jam rapidly for 10 minutes. Skim off the stones as they float to the surface. After 10 minutes of boiling, remove from the heat and test for setting point:
Put a teaspoon of jam on the cold plate, leave for 10 seconds, then push it gently with your finger. If a crinkly skin has formed, then it is ready. If not, continue to boil for another 5 minutes and test it again.
Be careful not to boil the jam for too long, for danger of turning it into fruity caramel.
When the jam is ready, carefully pour into the warm jars. Seal with tight-fitting lids. Allow to cool completely before labelling and storing.
Serve with homemade scones and clotted cream (or butter – whatever rocks your boat). My scone recipe is a simple Dan Lepard gem, published in the Guardian a few weeks ago. I’ll post the recipe in the next day or two.