Making plum jam each late summer/early autumn has turned into a bit of a tradition in our household and we aim to make enough jars to last us the whole year. My mum began making it years ago and has perfected a recipe to create the most delicious jam which she has taught me. Victoria plums are in season right now and many believe that these make the best jam. However jam can of course be made with any sort of plums, even those bought out of season from the supermarket.
For many, picking plums signals the arrival of autumn (or fall) and a season bursting with fruit. There are many hundreds of plum varieties grown all over the world. Victoria plums are probably the most well known variety of English plums. History has it that the Victoria plum was discovered by a man named Denyer in a garden in a Sussex village called Alderton towards the beginning of the nineteenth century. This story is dubious however, as there is no village in Sussex with the name of Alterton, although there is an Alterton in Suffolk! Originally called Sharp’s Emperor, Denyer renamed the plum as Denyer’s Victoria when Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837. Since then it has been widely cultivated in Britain. Denyer also introduced the plum to Sweden in 1844 where it became incredibly commercially popular. The Victoria plum tree produces fruit from late summer to early autumn. The plum has yellow flesh and the skin is a mottled red. The Victoria plum makes both a delicious eating and cooking plum.
Jam is easier to make with plums than some other fruits, as they contain a higher level of pectin which means the jam can set without the addition of lemon juice. The pectin levels are even higher when the plums are barely ripe, so it’s best to use freshly picked and nearly ripe fruit.
With this recipe you don’t need any specialist equiptment – no need for special pans or a jam themometer. We use old jars that previously held jam or marmalade to keep our jam in, and there is no need to purchase brand new jars. However new jars can be easily bought if desired. You could also use mason jars, but they need to be airtight to prevent the jam going mouldy before you eat eat it. This plum jam can be eaten with practically anything; as a cake filling, in a jam tart, spread on a scone or smothered generously on a slice of bread. You may have seen me mention it before in my recipes for the Victoria Sandwich and Empire Biscuits, and it is my go-to jam for everything. It’s so delicious you’ll never be reaching for a jar off a supermarket shelf again!
Victoria Plum Jam
- 900g Victoria plums
- 700g caster sugar
- 225 ml of water
- Wash up the jam jars. Do not use a tea towel to dry them – instead place them in the oven on a low heat until you are ready to use them. It is very important not to touch the inside of the jars. This is to prevent mould growing on the jam when it is stored.
- Place a few small plates inside the fridge or freezer to chill. These will be used later to test whether the jam is set.
- Cut the plums in half, remove the stones, and then cut each half into quarters.
- Place the plum and water into a large saucepan and simmer on a medium heat for about 20-30 minutes until the plums are soft and have broken up, stirring occasionally so that they don’t burn on the botton of the pan.
- Move the pan away from the heat and pour in the sugar. Stir continuously until the sugar has completely dissolved. You can tell whether it has dissolved by stirring the jam with a wooden spoon and looking for any sugar crystals on the back of the spoon.
- When all the sugar has dissolved place the pan back on the heat. Turn the heat up high and bring the jam up to a rapid boil. Boil it for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Move the pan away from the heat. Test for a set by dropping some onto a chilled plate. Leave it for 30 seconds to cool then gently push the jam with your finger. If the surface of the jam wrinkles, you have achieved a set! If not, place the jam back on the heat, boil, and check for a set after another 5 minutes. Repeat this until you have a set.This process depends on how runny you want the jam; there isn’t really a correct thickness!
- Move the jam away from the heat. If necessary, stir in a tiny dollop of butter to help get rid of any scum on the top. Alternatively you could spoon this out.
- Take your jam jars out of the oven and place on the worktop. Use a cup or a ladle to carefully spoon the jam into the jars, making sure you’ve left it to cool enough so you don’t burn yourself. Use a jam funnel if you can, to reduce the amount of drips!
- Optional: place a wax disk over the jam. This is to help prevent the jam going off when storing.
- Screw the lids on as tight as possible. Leave the jars to cool completely before storing them.
This is a delicious jam that stores well and can be used for many different purposes. Making jam is an extremely rewarding process and I hope you are inspired to make some of your own!