Plums make a great jam, the fruit collapsing into an oozing texture, with a welcome tartness and vibrant colour. But the addition of fig leaves is really quite special. They have a floral, almost buttery and almondy aroma, the flavour of which goes beautifully with the plums.
When I’m making jam, I use a ratio of 1kg of fruit to 350-500g of pectin or jamming sugar. This is less than half the amount of sugar a traditional jam recipe would use and I find that means you can taste the fruit much better.
The key, though, is to use jamming sugar for its added pectin to set the jam. Sugar is a key part of the preservation qualities in jam. Because I’ve reduced the amount so much, you really do need to sterilise your jars to ensure they keep well. Once opened, keep an eye on them and if any mould appears, scrape it off and store the jar in the fridge.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Around 10 jars
2kg Victoria plums, destoned and cut into quarters
2 fig leaves
700g jamming sugar
juice of 2 lemons
Put the plums, fig leaves and 300ml water into a large heavy-based pan. Bring up to a gentle simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, until the skins and flesh have softened, but not entirely collapsed. Turn the heat right down, then pour in the sugar and squeeze in the lemon juice. Gently simmer and mix well until the sugar melts, then ramp up the heat and cook for about 20-30 minutes, stirring often, until the jam thickens and hits a temperature of 102C.
To test, put a plate in the freezer and when you think the jam is ready, quickly put a small spoon’s worth on the frozen plate and leave it to cool for a minute. Then run your finger through the jam in a line and if the two sides hold and don’t immediately come back together, that’s thick enough for me. I prefer a lighter, more nuanced flavoured jam over one that’s gone dark from cooking until the ideal setting point.
To sterilise your jars, run them through a very hot dishwasher cycle. Or place them on a tray, then fill the jars and cover the lids with boiling water from the kettle. Leave for 5 minutes, then pour out the water and put briefly into a 120C/100C fan/gas mark ½ oven to dry completely.
Pour the jam into the jars, ideally using a funnel – but don’t fill them right to the top. Screw on the lids and invert the jars. Leave them upside down for 20 minutes, then turn over and leave to cool. Label and store in a cool, dark place until you’re ready to tuck in!