The Regent’s canal means so much to me for a few reasons. First, I live right next to it and it feels like it belongs a little bit to me. I will use terms such as MY canal or YOUR canal to our friend Maite (who also lives close to the canal) when I spot a new baby swan. Second, if it wasn’t for the canal I would probably not cycle to work every day. I know some cyclists deserve to be pushed in the water and be attacked by swans but not me. I am a very nice cyclist who keeps count of the animals and potential foraging sites. And third, I always find these foraging sites!
This particular foraging site, which is so close to our house, was blessed this year with a very generous crop of Cherry Plums. These plums are very sensitive to frost and cold, which is why these few trees didn’t produce anything last year as it was chilly until quite late. This year however, with our mild winter and spring, the flowers survived and turned into juicy plums. The weather was even too good as some branches broke due to the weight of too many plums, like the tree next to the Broadway Market.
We filled a big bag and since some of them were very ripe, I decided to make jam. I used the same old-fashioned technique as for the Strawberry Jam. It’s of course a little bit longer than normal jam recipes, but it is worth the effort. Cooking the juice separated from the fruit allow to keep the flavour from the fruit without overcooking them, conserve their bright red colour, and also concentrate the flavour by boiling off the excess liquid.
- 1.6 kg of Cherry Plums
- 800g granulated sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
Wash the plums and dry them. Cut them in half, remove the stone and place them in a jam pan. Put a few stones in the pan, my grandma always said it added some flavour. Cover with the sugar and leave covered for a few hours if very warm like now, or overnight.
When the bottom of the pan is filled with juice, bring the mixture to boil. Then stop the gas and let it rest overnight. The next day, fish out the plums and let them sit in a colander over a bowl to collect as much juice as possible. Add any extra juice to the pan along with the lemon juice and boil very hard for 15 minutes. Don’t forget to stir now and then so the sugar does’t burn at the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat, and let it simmer until you have a achieve a thick syrup consistency. Remove any stone from the mixture and add the plums. Stir well and give it a quick blend with a hand-held soup blender so you keep some pieces of plum skin whole. Simmer the jam for an extra 10 minutes and fill sterilised pots while hot, turn upside down and labeled when cold.
This jam doesn’t jellify as I didn’t add any extra pectin, but it has a thick consistency and a very nice natural shine to it. This is the old-fashion way of preserving summer fruits. If you prefer jelly type jam, then simply swap the sugar with jam sugar.