Sunday, 18 September 2011

Plum chutneys and jams: three delicious ways to use up plums in a glut!

L- R: : Chilli plum chutney, damson jam, plum chutney
This year has been a bumper year in the UK for plums- it's official! But I knew that anyway by the amount of neighbours and fellow allotment-holders who have been offering us bags of plums from their trees. Over the last couple of weeks we have had golden ones, red ones, purple ones and even some dark little damsons from our own two trees- all organic, too.  Having already gone down the usual route of crumbles and pies, I decided to follow in the footsteps of my mother and grandmother and try my hand at the venerable art of preserving by making chutney and jam. Of course, I have tried to use less sugar, but apart from that I have stuck to the basic rules of preserve-making that my mother passed on to me. Here are a couple of her tips:

  • Sterilise glass jars first by rinsing in water and heating for at least 10 minutes in an oven heated to 100C.
  • After you spoon the preserve into the jars and before it cools and you screw the lids on, cut circles of baking parchment/ waxed paper a little bigger than the diameters of the jars and lay them on the top of the preserves to seal them. 
  • Test if jam is at setting point by dropping some onto a cold spoon or other cold metal surface. It will soon set if it's ready. Another way is to drip a little into a cup of cold water and see if it forms a solid blob in the liquid- if it just spreads out in the water it's not ready yet.
  • (This one's mine) Keep home-made preserves in the fridge as they will probably contain less sugar and will keep better that way.
Here's my three recipes, then: damson jelly, chilli plum chutney and plum and ginger chutney!

Damson Jelly
This one's really easy! Just wash however many damsons you have picked- don't bother to stone and chop them; they will just turn into mush if you do that anyway. Gently heat them in a thick-bottomed pan until the pulp comes away from the skins and stones, then rub it through a fine sieve until you are left with just the flesh and juice. then proceed as you would to make any jam. Add raw cane sugar, tasting to see when you have added enough. I like mine just that bit tangy! Continue to boil until the sugar has dissolved and the jelly has reached setting point (see above), then bottle.


Chilli Plum Chutney
1lb stoned chopped plums
a handful of fresh/ frozen chillis (I used some of our super-hot nag bhut chillis from last year which I had frozen)
3 oz gour,crumbled
1 small cinnamon stick, broken into small pieces
salt turmeric
ricebran oil

  • Heat the oil and add the chillis (mind your eyes!)
  • When you have stir-fried them for a minute or two, it's time to add teh other ingredients.
  • Bring to a slow boil and continue to cook until it reaches setting point- it's up to you how runny or thick you make it.



Plum Chutney
This is a real winner- who needs Branston?! The ume plum seasoning adds to the fruitiness and gives that vinegary tang without actually using vinegar. This chutney is fantastic on crackers, with vegiburgers or accompanying cooked veg and rice, and I suspect it is excellent with a strong cheese like mature Cheddar...
600g chopped stoned plums
50g peeled fresh ginger, grated
200g gour
4 tabs rice bran oil
2 tabs ume plum seasoning
a small cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
1 tsp seasalt
turmeric and hing to taste

  • Place plums and ginger in a pan on a gentle heat
  • Add the oil. As the plums start to break down add salt and the savoury flavouring ingredients.
  • Continue simmering and add gour, stirring until dissolved
Remove from heat and bottle when setting point is reached.

1 comment:

  1. These all sound spinningly marvelous, especially the ginger plum chutney. Thanks so much for the recipes! :)

    ReplyDelete

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