Bring a little burst of year-round summer magic to your taste buds with Sara Whatley’s fruit preserving recipe
From August to October plum trees drip with fruit, soft and forgiving in the hand. There are a large variety of plums and other fruits in the plum family, such as damsons, sloes and gages, some sweet and ready to eat, some tart and more suitable for cooking. The range of colours they come in varies from light green through orange and yellow to dark purple.
If you have your own plum tree in the garden all the better, otherwise these juicy fruits are readily available at grocers, farm shops, by the side of the road and at food shops too.
Plums are divine when added to cakes, creating little explosions of moisture in the mouth, or for a more grown up take on this fruit, make a batch of plum gin to warm the cockles come winter.
This recipe requires sterilised jars and screw on lids with a push button in the middle to create a seal. There are other types of seals, just make sure you seal correctly, or the fruit will spoil when stored. Depending on how sweet you want the syrup, add or reduce the sugar content, or use fruit juice instead. About 14 plums (28 halves) fit into a 1 litre jar (1.65 pints) or 7 plums into a 500ml jar (just under a pint).
Makes approximately: 1 x 1 litre jar or 2 x 500ml jars
- 1kg (2lb 3oz) ripe plums, halved and pitted
- 250ml (8½fl oz) water
- 175g (6oz) sugar
- Lemon or cinnamon sticks
- First sterilise the jars and lids (wash in hot soapy water then heat for 15 minutes in a low oven, 160°C or gas mark 3 and put the lids in a bowl of boiling water or run through a hot dishwasher cycle and keep warm ready for use).
- Wash the plums, remove any really soft ones, cut in half and remove the stone. Add the sugar to the water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar. Add in a few strips of lemon peel or a couple of cinnamon sticks if desired. Add the plums and let them bubble for 2 to 3 minutes then take off the heat, lid and leave for a minimum of 30 minutes or overnight.
- Spoon the fruit into the jars and ladle in the liquid (removing the lemon or cinnamon). Leave half an inch headspace.
- Screw on the lids then heat process to seal: place the jars in a large pasta pot with draining insert and fill with water, 5cms (2 inches) from the top of the jars. Bring to the boil then cover with a lid and leave for 20 minutes. Raise the drainer, tighten the lids (carefully as they will be hot!) then leave to cool. The airlocks should all depress meaning they are fully sealed. If not, repeat.
- Store in a cool dark place for up to two years.