February 24th, 2021
I believe plums must be the most prolific stone fruit around (in the top of the south anyway). A short walk around our neighbourhood I notice many backyards with trees laden with fruit, along with wildlings growing on edges of parks and roadsides.
In my own backyard, we also have our fair share of plums – black doris, greengage and omega – all great cookers for using in baking, preserves and oven jam. There is also a pesky wildling on the border of our property and the riverbank. It has stayed in place because the plums are a feast for the kererū that perform upside-down acrobatics to get to the cherry-sized fruits (pictured below). It is quite a spectacle watching these heavy birds swooping into and hanging in the spindly tree, taking a risk for that sweet treat.
Spiced Slow-Roasted Plum Jam
I find when I cook plum jam on the stovetop, it takes a long time to cook down. In this recipe, I use the dry heat of the oven to concentrate the plums for an intensely flavoured jam, matched with warming spices. It is essential to use firm-fleshed plums for this low-sugar conserve, or it won’t cook down. I have included varietal suggestions below.
This makes a thick chunky jam, however, if preferred (like my husband requests) you can tip the jam into a saucepan, remove the whole spices and use a stick blender to puree. Reheat until piping hot then fill the hot jars.
- 1.5 kg firm-fleshed plums – black doris, omega, or prune plums such as zwetschge
- 1 cup 200g dark sugar such as demerara, coconut or brown sugar
- 1 cinnamon quill
- 1 star anise, broken into petals
Preheat the oven to 180C (fan bake 170C).
Remove the stones from the plums and quarter. Arrange in a single layer in a roasting tray. Place into the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the plums soften.
Reduce the heat to 160C (fan bake 150C).
Sprinkle the sugar over the plums and add the spices – don’t stir. Cook for 20 minutes to dissolve and caramelise the sugar. Remove the tray from the oven and gently stir then cook for a further 15-20 minutes, until the conserve is thick and bubbly around the edges (keeping in mind it will thicken some as it cools).
During this final stage of cooking, prepare the jars. Place the jars and lids into a large saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat.
When the jam is ready, scoop the HOT jam (along with a spice or two if you want) into the HOT jars and secure the lids (carefully removing the jars and lids from the hot water with tongs). Leave the sealed jars to cool on a wooden board.
Once jars are cool check lids are correctly vacuum sealed – they should be concaving into the jar – then store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months. Once opened, keep the jam in the fridge and consume within 4 weeks.
*Recipe first published 30th January 2021 on Stuff.co.nz