plum and bay jam

living in central London and only occasionally visiting the countryside around the UK means that when i have the opportunity to visit a farm shop i often go overboard with my purchases.

at the weekend we stopped off at a roadside farm shop which was selling the most beautiful plums. small, deep purple, warm and tasting like the nectar of the gods; i had to have a box of them – a mere 2 kilos to dispose of.

plum jam was the first thing i wanted to make, but plum jam with a twist - i decided to add bay leaves to give it an extra depth of flavour.


the verdict?

well, i didn’t get the first taste of my jam but according to the person who did: “well, it's lovely of course. and it tastes slightly ginger-y, which might be an effect of adding the bay. and it is as dark as midnight in alaska in the winter. and it has a treacle-like texture. and it's good on soda farls.”

a success!


plum and bay jam (makes approx 1 litre)

1kg plums, halved

300ml water

6 bay leaves, broken in half

1kg sugar

juice of ½ lemon

knob of butter

place the cut plums, with their stones, water and bay leaves in a large heavy-based pan. cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes until the fruit begins to cook down. add the remaining ingredients and allow the mixture to boil for a further 5, stirring regularly.

add the knob of butter (this helps to reduce and disperse scum) and continue to boil, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes or until the setting point is reached. to test for this place a teaspoon of the jam on a chilled saucer and leave for 2-3 minutes. when you push your finger across the jam, it should wrinkle on the surface. if not, boil for a further 5 minutes and repeat the process.

allow to cool for 10 minutes. remove the plum stones and bay leaves with a slotted spoon. pour into sterilised jars* and allow to cool before sealing.

* to sterilise a jar: either put the jar through a dishwasher cycle or wash in hot soapy water, rinsing well, then dry in a very low ove.