A few weeks ago I arranged to meet a friend of mine at Canary Wharf station. We hadn’t seen each other for some months and we had a lot of news to catch up on.
When she arrived at the station my friend was heavily loaded down with bags – two very large bags of plums weighing 5 kilos, given to her by her next-door neighbour, and also a beautiful blue bottle of ouzo that she had brought me back from her holiday in Greece.
Because the plums were so heavy we decided to have lunch at the Café Rouge which is very close to the station. The restaurant was virtually empty when we walked in, perhaps this should have told us something, but at the time we didn’t think any think of it. However the less said about the meal the better.
Back to the plums. The plums were small, sweet and firm, the Victoria variety I think, and had a white bloom which showed that the fruit haven’t been handled too much. I considered making plum wine but decided that I didn’t have the required distillation equipment or the space. But then my thoughts went back to my younger days when I rented a flat at Ealing Common during the 1960’s.
My landlord was Polish and every Saturday morning was rent day. At 11.00am I would go to his kitchen, along with other tenants in the building. After paying the rent we were given a small glass (or two) of homemade plum brandy, slivovitz, and then politely listened to Mr Abramovicz recounting stories of his life during WWII. This became a weekly ritual and many Saturday mornings just became a blurry haze.
Plums have many beneficial properties and hold numerous health promoting compounds, minerals, and vitamins. The kernel of the plum stones taste of almonds and a small number have been added to the recipe below. But apparently they should be consumed in moderation as they do contain a small amount of cyanide. The addition of ouzo is optional but it does complement the flavour of the jam.
Plum Jam with Ouzo
5 kilos of plums
5 kilos of preserving sugar
(for lesser amounts of fruit reduce the amount of sugar accordingly)
16fl oz water
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
4 tablespoons ouzo
- Wash the plums the being careful not to bruise them Discard any that are damaged
- Cut the plums in half and remove the stones (because my plums were small I kept them whole and removed the stones with a cherry/olive pitter)
- Crack 5/6 of the stones open. Remove the kernels and put to one side
- Put the plums, reserved kernels and water into a preserving pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for approximately 40 minutes (until the plums are soft and pulpy)
- Add the sugar and stir gently until all of the sugar has dissolved
- Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 10/15 minutes or until setting point has been reached. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Add the butter and remove any scum that has formed on the top of the jam
- Stir in the ouzo and then leave to cool for 10 minutes
- Transfer the jam to warm sterilised jars and cover the tops with waxed paper. When the jam has cooled completely cover with lids
- Label and store in a cool place
For full details regarding sterilising jars and how to tell if the jam has reached setting point please follow this link to my recipe for redcurrant jelly Redcurrant Jelly Recipe