I remember learning how to make jam by watching my mum as a child. I clearly recall one year my Dad had picked all the ripe plums off our enormous tree and brought them to her to make jam. It was 40 degrees in the middle of a Victorian heatwave and the last thing Mum wanted to do was hover over a hot stove. Being a Pom (that's a Brit for those of you that don't know) she always wilted in the heat, so she popped on her swimmers and that's how she made the jam. I can still picture her in her red costume standing in our kitchen,making it.
My mum passed away in November, and I flew down to Tasmania for a week to keep my Dad company over Christmas. We went to visit Bridestowe Lavender Farm and I picked up some culinary lavender as I hadn't got around to replacing my lavender bushes yet. When the cherry plums were ripe last week I decided to pair them together to make jam - lavender adds a really lovely floral fragrance and taste to sweets, don't be afraid to try it! It is important you use lavender that has not been sprayed, so either grow some of your on or purchase the Culinary kind.
1 kilo cherry plums, pitted
1 kilo caster sugar
1 tablespoon lavender
Sterilise your jars and place a couple of teaplates in the fridge before you begin.
1. Place the plums and sugar in a squeaky clean heavy based saucepan. Juice the lemons and add the juice to the pan. Add the lemon peel to the mixture (this helps the jam set, you will remove it later).
2. Stir the pan well, and bring the mixture to a boil, then quickly turn to a simmer, stirring often to prevent burning. Add the lavender and keep cooking until the fruit is very soft, and falling apart.
3.You can use a slotted spoon to skim scum off the top for a clear jam. To test if the jam is set take one of your plates from the fridge and drop a teaspoon of jam onto it. Give it a minute to cool, and tip the plate to the side. If it is set the jam shouldn't run down the plate but stay in a blob.
4. Remove the lemon peel, and pour the hot jam into your sterilised jars, pop the lid on and allow to cool. To help the lids seal better, once the lid is on turn the jar upside down for five minutes, and then right side up, it heats the lid and as it cools brings it down. Any opened jam should be stored in the fridge, but in a cool dark cupboard unopened the jam should keep for at least six months.