Sunday, 6 September 2009

Stolen Treasures

If a tree laden with fruit is growing in someone's garden, but the fruit is hanging over a public footpath, then is it stealing if you pick it?  This was the question that flitted through my mind as I hurriedly filled my empty sandwich box with luscious sweet Mirabelle plums on a local walk a few weeks ago.




I had done a cursory check into said garden, and established that no one was home, and salved my conscience by telling myself that there were literally thousands of plums on this tree...  but I couldn't help but feel a little guilty about taking them.

However, once home I put all guilt aside and set to turning these golden beauties into jam. 



Mirabelles are a small variety of plum - the perfect size for stoning with a cherry-pitter, and much less messy to do so!  They were perfectly ripe so were stoned with ease, and were soon bubbling away with some sugar and water. 

The recipe I used - this one, from the fabulous River Cottage 'Preserves' handbook by Pam Corbin - instructed one to crack some of the plum stones to extract the kernels and give the jam a slight almondy flavour.  But this sounded dangerous (I had visions of trying to bash them open with a hammer...) so instead, just as setting point was reached I added a scant teaspoon of almond essence.  This has provided a wonderful addition to the fruitiness of the jam - the almond flavour is subtle, but adds a real depth to the preserve. 











As you can see, I upped the almond level in one of my three jars by stirring through a generous handful of slivered almonds, which should provide an interesting texture.  I had never added nuts to a jam, but I have my fingers crossed that it will be a successful experiment.

A quick check through my kitchen cupboard has revealed that I now have 5 different varieties of home-made jam, all made in recent months.  With blackberries still to come, I fear that there will be even more by the time 2009 ends.  We don't even eat that much jam...  I think we'll just have to make the clotted cream tea a weekly occurance!

3 comments:

snowy said...

Hi Norm,your jam looks great. I made some Mirabelle jam earlier on and I also added almond slivers to a couple of pots. I did this last year to some red plum jam and it tasted good. I put a vanilla pod in with another lot of plums last year then fished it out at the end of cooking, and that was good too.

George@CulinaryTravels said...

Norm your jam looks utterly gorgeous. I could happily eat some straight out of the jar!! Next time do crack the kernals, it really is worth it.

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