$5 Friday: Baby plum jam

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Canberra has the most amazing blossom trees in Spring, with ornamental plums (I always thought they were cherries) lining many streets.  The building where I work has a spectacular clumping, admired for a week in flower then forgotten.  Such is the impermanence of life.

Ornamental plums and jam on bread
Baby plum jam

This week, small fruit are beginning to fall.  Larger than an average cherry and smaller than a plum, they rot on the pavement without a second thought.

“Are they edible?” I wondered.  I picked one at lunchtime and tried it, involuntarily winching at the sourness.  I am discovering that when fully ripe they are sweeter, but not nearly as luscious as a cherry.

Plum jam on a small plate
Plum jam

But they make a good, tart jam with a strong and unique flavour.  Kind of like cranberry sauce but with more of a jam texture.  I like the taste better and I think more Australians could start serving this at Christmas rather than imported cranberry sauce.  Far better to eat locally and in season where possible.  And using food that would otherwise go to waste.  I hope it becomes a new trend.  Just please leave me some for me to forage for in my neighbourhood.

Jar of plum jam and a plate of jam on bread
I love gifting jams and chutneys as Christmas gifts

I like to make small quantities in my breadmaker.  Most breadmakers these days have a jam setting.  I find it easy to make small quantities – I can set and forget while making dinner.  But if using a stove double or tripe quantities.

Ingredients

400g washed and chopped plums, stones removed
11/4 cups sugar
1 tab Jamsetta

Method

  1. Combine sugar then fruit in a breadmaker.  Select the jam setting.
  2. Allow to cook until completed, then spoon into a sterilized jar (makes between 300ml and 375ml)
  3. When cool, spread on toast, scones or serve with roast meats or a cheese board. Or do as I do and gift to friends.
  4. Note: I don’t remove the skins as I quite like the taste and the rustic texture.  But if you like a smooth texture (or if you want it to be local show prizewinning perfect), then either peel the plums first or cook and then pass through a sieve or a mouli.  A friend of mine makes plum jam with the pips still in, then uses a badminton bat to sieve them through.  Works well for him.

Cost:

Sugar:  20c
Jamsetta: 50c
Total: 70c

A note on Jamsetta.  I like to use Jamsetta as it is easy and reliable.  And I was gifted some by a friend.  It works because it contains pectin, which makes the jam set.  You can make your own pectin in many ways, including more traditionally from lemon seeds.  If you use otherwise discarded lemon seeds, it would reduce the cost of this jam even further.

A jar of plum jam with jam on bread and ornamental plums in the background

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