The other day H emails about an abundance of plums in his garden and would I like some. Of course I would! Not that I’ve any space to store jam, enough empty jars nor do Beloved and I have the capacity to eat so much jam (considering there’s still a bit of marmalade left and quite a bit of strawberry and gooseberry jams I made over summer). Anyway, a rather large bag of ripe Victoria plums awaited me at work on Monday morning and I’ve now managed to use it all up, which I’m super happy with. Here are some of the results:
The dark colour of the jam comes from dark brown sugar – as the plums were ripe and I didn’t have time to go shopping for sugar, I just used what I had at home, which ended up being a mix of jam sugar and dark brown sugar. Also added blanched kernels from plum stones as per River Cottage Preserves handbook. Tastes great.
I then roasted half a kilo, drizzled with honey to use for ice cream, which I’ll hopefully make over the weekend. This left me with just over a kilo of plums, which, combined with a few apples in the fruit bowl, made a plum-bena or a cordial/ squash type thing, recipe from River Cottage again. This is just delicious and should keep for a few months.
Have really enjoyed making preserves this year, I’ve never made any before so it’s been a good learning experience. I wish I had more time and space to do savoury stuff, pickles, passata, chutneys… perhaps next year.
Among many things that I absolutely ‘hated’ as a child, marmalade stood out alongside beetroot and caraway seeds at the absolute pinnacle of Most Hated Foods. I now think marmalade rather marvellous and as it is marmalade making time of the year, I made some last weekend with Italian blood oranges. When I say I made it last weekend, I actually started it on Sunday and finished on Monday night as did not read recipe (from River Cottage book on preserves) properly and did not realise you had to soak peel in juice and water overnight first. This is the first time I’ve ever done any fruit preserving so was a bit anxious about marmalade reaching setting point (seemed to take a bit long) but all was fine in the end, it set well and it is rather good. We tried it yesterday for the first time (breakfast photo below) and to say I was happy would be a bit of an understatement – I do get an incredible amount of joy when things I’ve made turn out OK. It’s just wonderful realising that all these things that you usually buy can be easily made with only a little bit of effort and not a lot of money at home. Total cost of this batch was just under £7 – for around 2.5kg. Must apologise for photos, they are not very good, there hasn’t been enough natural light for iphone camera.
Making the marmalade has been a very good experience, even if I did worry that it would never set. I’d love to now do all the recipes in River Cottage and then experiment with some of my own but don’t have enough space – kitchen is already one big real life Jenga/ Tetris scenario so we shall have to use this batch up before I do anything else. I had some old marmalade that someone gave us as well and made some very good ice cream with it, which I still need to post and this I will definitely do again. Then there is the old Delia Smith Marmalade bread and butter pudding that a friend mentioned – incidentally, the book this recipe is in, Delia’s Winter Collection, was the first cookbook I ever bought so I shall have to make it soon too. Not that I want to use up this marmalade batch too quickly but I do believe I’ve caught a bit of a ‘preserve making bug’, can’t help it, it’s a glorious thing!