Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Blood Plum and Vanilla Bean Jam

We had a big back yard when I was kid. The section of yard closest to the house had a porch and a pool and stretch of cool, green lawn. But the back of the yard was dedicated to my Dad's fruit and nut trees. There were apples, nectarines, cherries, chestnuts, hazelnuts, oranges, lemons and the most delectable peaches you have ever tasted. We were lucky... and well fed. But it was our next-door-neighbour's blood plum tree that my brothers and sisters and I coveted. On long summer days, we would stare over the adjoining fence at the fruit dripping like jewels from a starlets throat, just out of arms reach. Whenever our neighbours came to our house for afternoon tea, we would drop not-so-subtle hints about how blood plums were our favourite plums and how beautiful and productive their tree was. Eventually they would put us out of our misery and hand us a couple of buckets so that we could scramble around their back yard, fill our buckets with fruit and then sit on our porch and make ourselves sick eating our bounty.

Now that I am all grown up, I have a really, really big yard and I have my very own blood plum tree. I can go out into my yard and pluck a plum from the tree whenever I want and they taste almost as good as those longed-for blood plums from over the fence years ago.

Blood Plum and Vanilla Bean Jam
slightly adapted from here
Makes 3 500g jars

1 kg unblemished blood plums
120ml water
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise
450g white sugar

Heat the oven to 120C to sterilise the jars. Slip a plate into the freezer for testing the setting point.

Wash the plums, cut them in half and remove the stones.

Put the plums, water and vanilla pod into a large heavy bottomed pan and place over a medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until the plums softened and start to break down, about 15 - 20 minutes.

Bring to a simmer and allow the plums to cook for 15-20 minutes or until soft and broken down.

Wash and dry the jars and place them in the heated oven while you get on the with jam.

Once the plums are cooked, gradually add the sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture becomes clear and shiny. Bring to a rolling boil and cook, stirring now and then until it starts to darken and thicken.

Take the plate out of the freezer. Remove the jam from the heat and spoon a dollop of it onto the cold plate and wait for about a minute. Push your finger through the jam. The jam has reached setting point when it wrinkles slightly. If the jam doesn't crinkle when you push your finger through it, return it to the heat and cook for a further few minutes and test again.

Once your jam has reached setting point, remove it from the heat and remove the jars from the oven. Remove the vanilla pod, cut it into three pieces add one piece to each jar. Fill each hot jar with the hot jam, leave 1cm head space. Place tops on the jars and allow to cool before storing in a cool dark place for up to a year.


  1. What a beautiful memory Jen! Your childhood backyard sounds like all the pastoral dreams I had as a kid stuck in a non-descript suburb south of Brisbane. What a wonder. And how beautiful that you can continue having those gorgeous trees now that you are all grown. Can't wait to find some plums (at the markets for me) and make this jam for my plum-loving sister :)

  2. I love your souvenirs Jen :) You're so lucky to be able to have those kind of fruit trees. Here, with four seasons, it's kind of impossible. I wish it was but oh well, we have many other things so. I just imagine your backyard, full of fruit trees....WOW! & I lve your jam, I made one that looks like that one and it was unbelievably good :)