Autumn Windfall Fruits

We collect our plums and apples from the trees in our backyard. They say ‘plant pears for your heirs’, so some of our trees are yet to produce enough fruit for our use, but they should for our children.

Over the last month or so, we’ve had a large number of plums and apples ripen, and being unable to eat all the fruit while it is fresh, I slaved away like a good, but messy almost housewife over the weekend at my very first attempt at making plum sauce and jam.

What is jam, marmelade, jelly and preserve?

A jam is a set spread that has chunks of fruit in it. A marmelaide is a citrus jam. A jelly is a clear set spread with the fruit sifted out of it. A preserve is preserved whole or cut fruit in a bottle or jar, with no or little sugar added.

Sterilising Bottles

The bottles will need to be washed in warm soapy water and sterilised. I wash my bottles and lids in the dishwasher, then place them in the oven at 110 degrees celcius for 15 minutes.

It is important to remember:

  • Cold ingredients go into a cold jar
  • Hot ingredients go into a hot jar

Plum Sauce

This plum sauce goes well with roast pork and crackling.

Ingredients:

  • 3kg plums
  • 1kg granulated sugar
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 8 cups malt vinegar
  • 3 tsp whole cloves
  • 3 tsp whole allspice
  • 2 tsp whole black peppercorns, lightly crushed
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Method:

  1. Halve plums and remove stones.
  2. Place sugar, salt and vinegar with the plums in a large saucepan.
  3. Make a small cheesecloth or muslin bag – tie cloves, allspice, peppercorn and cinnamon and add to the pan.
  4. Bring to the boil, uncovered and simmer gently, stirring occasionally until mixture is a thick, rich sauce. This will take about 2.5 hours.
  5. Strain off skins through a course sieve.
  6. Pour into warm, sterilised jars, with a 12 mm headspace from top rim of the jar. Put the lid on while still hot to seal.

Jam Tips

It is important to quickly dissolve the sugar over a moderate heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat until the jam reaches a rollicking boil. As I am still very much a begginner at jam making, I use ‘jam sugar’, which has pectin added to it and helps with the set. However, castor sugar can also be used as it dissolves quickly.

I found that the easiest way to test the setting point of the jam is to place a saucer in the freezer, remove the jam from the heat so it doesn’t overcook and dribble a little jam onto a cold saucer, wait 30 seconds, then run your finger across the drop of jam. If this causes the jam to wrinkle, then setting point has been reached.

High Dumpsie Dearie Jam

I found this recipe in Matthew Evans’ ‘Not Just Jam’ recipe book. I thoroughly enjoy watching his The Gourmet Farmer series on Fat Pig Farm.

This is a traditional English autumn fruit jam. It is believed to have originated in either Worcestershire or Gloucestershire. This jam is a deep rosy pink colour and is delicious in a warm jam roly-poly.

Ingredients:

  • 500g pears
  • 500g apples
  • 500g plums
  • zest and strained juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger, crushed
  • 1.2kg castor sugar

Method:

  1. Peel and core the apples and pears. Peel and stone the plums. Cut all the fruit into large chunks and out them all in the pot with the ginger, lemon zest and juice. Add enough cold water to just cover the fruit. Bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 30 minutes until the fruit is soft.
  2. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat to high. Boil rapidly for about 15 minutes, remove from the heat and check the set.
  3. Pour into sterilised jars and put the lid on while still hot to seal.

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