There are so many things my mother has taught me in the kitchen. Some have been through observation, some by guessing from what I know Mum makes, and others are my handwritten recipes. But some recipes just need to be taught face-to-face. Jam is one of them.
You see, there are smells and sights that come with jam-making that you just need to experience first-hand. Luckily for me, my mum showed me how to make some with a local glut of plums and blackberries that are now in season. And luckily for you, I took photos and paid attention, so you can make them too!
There are plenty of plums in season at the moment (this year I think they are a little late, perhaps due to rain early in summer? Maybe the heat? Who knows!) Any fruit shop will order you in a tray if you ask, and if you get your hands on some blackberries, add them in, too. Or if you are lucky enough to be around some… get picking!
Plum & blackberry jam
Makes: 2.25 litres (6 x 375ml jam jars)
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 50 mins
- 1 kg plums, stoned and quartered
- 250 g fresh blackberries, washed and stems removed
- 1 kg sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 thin slice butter
- Before you start my mum tells me that you have to put a saucer or plate into the freezer. You’ll also need to sterilise 6 x 375ml jam jars (see tips).
- Throw all the ingredients except the butter into a heavy-based saucepan, mix around and bring to the boil.
- Once it has come to the boil, turn the heat down so it’s on a slow simmer for about 20-25 minutes. You will notice that there is a kind of froth that appears – Mum tells me that this is called scum. A little harsh I think, but don’t worry about it too much at this stage... we deal with that a little later on.
- To check if it’s ready take a dollop of jam and place it onto the frozen plate. You are looking to see if it sets. You can also streak your finger through the jam as well. If you notice a kind of ‘skin’ forming on the top, then you’ll know you are done – this is called the ‘wrinkle test’.
- Now to deal with that scum! Mum tells me that a ‘trace’ of butter will deal with that. She takes a thin slice from a block of butter and adds it into the simmering jam. Stir it through for about a minute, and the scum will magically disappear. If you still have some remaining, you could scoop it out.
- Ladle the hot jam into the warm, sterilised jars. Put the lids on immediately for a good seal.
To sterilise jars I wash them in the dishwasher on the hottest cycle, or wash them in hot soapy water and then place them into a low oven (120°C) for 20 minutes, ensuring all plastic seals are removed.
Beth of Baby Mac has been blogging since 2006 and made the move from the city to the country in 2010. On Baby Mac she writes about her family, life in the country, entertaining and recipes, interiors – with a good dose of humour on the side.