Sunday 19 August 2007

Victoria Plum and Vanilla Jam

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
120ml water
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.


Deborah said...

I'm adding this to my growing list of jams to make next year!

Gigi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gigi said...

I have never made jam before. I'm going to put it on my to do list. Can I use other stone fruits? Sorry about the delete I had too many typos:)

Katie said...

Hi Gigi, you can use almost any fruit to make jam, apricots, peaches, cherries, apples, pears, blueberries. The only thing you need to be aware of is their pectin content. Its the pectin in fruits that helps to make jam set. Different fruits have different pectin contents. Lemons have a very high pectin content so if you are worried about your jam not setting then add the juice of half a lemon. You can also flavour the jam in other ways such as by adding elderflower, mint, alcohol etc. You can also make 'jam' with vegetables. I remember making carrot jam at school that was a vibrant orange colour, although it was rather an aquired taste.

Best thing to do is experiment and have fun :)

Joanna said...

The plum tree I planted a couple of years ago has so much fruit that it has broken a bough ... I'd never have thought of putting vanilla into it, great idea, thanks for sharing


Anonymous said...

I adore Victoria Plum Jam ! This recipe will be delicious. This plum makes delicious jam just with sugar, no lemons or vanilla even. My mum makes it in Scotland and always brings me some when she visit me in the States, since there is nothing like it here. She tells me that every year, she finds it more and more difficult to find Victoria plums, which makes me sad. The sweet/just-tart-enough flavour and the rich color....mmm. Thanks for the vanilla idea. PEGGY

Anonymous said...

Just made the jam and it looks and smells delicious. I raided my daughters Victoria Plum Trees a few days ago. It is a very simple recipe to follow and make many thanks for it. I experimented about 4 weeks ago with Strawberry and a Vanilla Pod and the results were fantastic the jam lasted no time at all with the family so it is well worth a try. Once again Many Thanks

Jo said...

Absolutely fabulous. We had jam and bread for dinner!

Rob said...

This jam tastes great !! Thanks.

Christine said...

I have made this jam and added a small amount of nutmeg. The vanilla flavour is still prominent but after the initial sweet flavor hits it is rounded off with a warm, nutty flavour... might be worth a try!!

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled across this, and have just made a batch. Delicious, just the right amount of sweet and tart. I didn't have any vanilla pods but used good quality vanilla seeds. Seemed to work out.

Alan Young said...

Thanks for a wonderful recipe - I made this scrummy jam last year and my wife and I both thought it was the best jam we've ever tasted. Just about to make some more - one can often pick up vanilla pods in Lidl at a very reasonable price.