I have finished the first lot of plums collected from The Orchard Tea Room and have another 15 kgs ordered for pick up on Wednesday. 'What did you make, Rosie?' I hear you ask excitedly. Well. Naturally I made some plum jam, I also made Plum & Vanilla Conserve. Wash the plums, halve and stone them, and put into a large pan or preserving pan. Add the juice of 1 lemon per kg of fruit and pour over 1 kg sugar to each 1 kg fruit. Equal fruit to sugar, in other words. Leave the plums to soak in the sugar overnight. The next day, put the pan on to heat through gently to dissolve the sugar, stir to ensure all of the sugar is incorporated. Add two vanilla pods per kg of fruit, chopped into 3 or 4 lengths. Bring to a rapid boil, and maintain, testing for a set after 6 minutes approximately. Pot and seal while hot, placing a further small piece of vanilla pod at the top of each jar. Plum, Pear & Apple jam is also lovely - lots of Autumn fruit packs a delicious flavour - use roughly equal amounts of each fruit.
I also made Victoria Plum and Cinnamon Cordial - cook a quantity of plums with a couple of pieces of cinnamon stick, add 300ml water to each kg of fruit and cook until the the plums are soft. Strain through a jelly bag overnight. Next day, measure the juice and add 700g of sugar to each 1 litre of juice. Stir to mix and warm to dissolve the sugar thoroughly. Add the juice of 1 lemon per litre of cordial. Pour into warm, sterilised bottles. The cordial will keep for two to three weeks in the fridge but to extend the shelf life to at least 1 year process for 20 minutes in a waterbath as per my instructions in a previous blog. This is a delicious Autumn or Winter cordial - try it hot with maybe a wee dram! I Have used the 250ml Bevanto Milk Bottle for the cordial and the sauce
The best of all, in my opinion, and brilliant to make for Christmas is Plums in Brandy. You will need a couple of large jars - 500ml - 900ml, the prettier the better. Wash them and put into a warm oven to dry and sterilise. Put around 400ml of water into a saucepan with 100g honey and warm together to dissolve the honey. Add the zest of one orange and 100ml brandy. Keep warm. Halve 1kg plums and remove the stone - only use absolutely sound fruit with no bruising. Put the plums into your warm jars, pushing in as many as possible - add a small length cinnamon stick and a star anise, if liked, as you fill. Gently pour in the hot syrup making sure that the air pockets are filled. Gently ease a dinner knife down the sides of the jar to allow the syrup to flow in between the fruit. Fill the jars up to the top and seal with the cap, or the spring clip, whichever you have used. If you have an ordinary cap ease back a quarter turn.
Put the filled jars into a preserving pan onto a folded J cloth/newspaper/tea towel and pour in enough water to cover the jars. Turn on the heat and gradually bring the water to simmering point. Maintain the simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the jars from the water ( remove some of the water with a ladle first,) make sure the caps are tightly sealed and leave on one side to cool. Fantastic with good ice-cream, creme fraiche, yoghurt or shortbread. Will keep for at least one year.
Clockwise from top left: Prunes in Armagnac, Cherries in Amaretto, Brandied Plums x 2, Apricot Spoon Fruit