This year, for the first time ever I have made plum jam according to my mother’s recipe. It worked out beautifully, I now don’t understand why I never made it before, and it’s so easy! Here’s how you make it:
The main ingredient is 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of common plums (prunus domestica domestica) or zwetschges – the names for this sort of plum may vary regionally, but they are dark blueish purple and oval (see below; these are from our garden) – with the stones removed. This means you may have to start off with about 4 kilograms. Then mix the fruit gently (so as not to bruise them) with 0.75 kilograms (1.65 pounds) of sugar, two cinnamon sticks and two to three star anise fruit. Put all of this in a bowl and leave it in a cold place overnight, for example the larder or the basement.
The next morning, there should be quite a bit of juice, but it should by no means cover all the fruit. Put the mixture into a large pan and heat it on the stove at top temperature. Once the mixture is bubbling nicely, turn down the heat slowly so that it continues to bubble steadily. Let it cook for 2 hours. And here comes the hard bit: During all that time, don’t stir even once. If you do (my mother swears), it will start to stick at the bottom of the pan and scorch. I didn’t try that out, but I can attest to the fact that I didn’t stir and it worked just fine.
After two hours, take it off the heat and fish out the star anise and the cinnamon sticks with a spoon. The plums are nicely cooked by now, but still intact as fruit. Take a handheld mixer and mix the fruit for five minutes (my mother tells me my grandmother used to do this by hand … for 30 minutes). The resulting jam should be dark red in color and nicely spreadable on a piece of bread.
To store the jam, you should freeze it in small portions. Because there is comparatively little sugar in the jam, it goes off quickly. Best to have a small amount in the fridge and defrost the next serving when you need it. If you want to start with a smaller amount, just divide the ingredients by half.
Have you got any family recipes for jam that you’d like to share? And what do you call these plums?
– Rike Horstmann