Small Batch Conserve and Pickling
I love the idea of stirring a big pot of bubbling jam on a cold winter’s day and I also love that it’s not as hard as it’s made out to be. With a bit of patience, I’ve previously made big batches of sweet, vanilla spiked pineapple jam and a simple plum jam made from a massive grocery bag of inedible unripe plums that were kindly given to me by a work colleague.
It’s just too hot in Singapore to get excited about leaning over a hot pot stirring for hours though, but I was inspired by some super sweet baby red onions and some tart plums and decided to try some some small batch preserving and pickling.
So for the next few weeks, Wednesday is small batch conserve and pickle day. I’m excited! Does this make me a food nerd or a 60 year old lady? I’m ok with either if it means that I get to eat yummy home made jam and pickles.
Each recipe will only make one jar and all of them have been designed to be put straight into an unsterilised jar to be refrigerated and eaten over the next month or so. No sterilising jars…yay!
Spiced Plum Jam
The fruit available here can be quite different to what you get in Australia. Most things that I’m used to are readily available with some tropical extras like durian, dragonfruit and rambutan. Bananas are super cheap and the best I have ever had, while stone fruit is expensive and not the quality that I am used to. Strawberries are the real kicker. I’ve never seen bigger, juicer strawberries. I have no idea if they taste as good as they look though as there is no way I am shelling out $15.00 for a punnet.
This jam was inspired by some plums we bought that were on sale. They were ok and certainly edible but a little too hard and not quite sweet enough, so I thought I’d try making a small batch of jam with what we had left after eating a few fresh.
This recipe only makes 1 small one jar and can be put straight into an unsterilised jar to be refrigerated and eaten over the next month or so. If you feel the need, this recipe can also be put into a sterilised jar and then stored in a dark, dry cupboard until you are ready to eat it or give it as a gift.
I’m not a fan of sterilising jars and that’s part of the beauty of making a small batch, but if you do want to sterilise, my tip is to pour over boiling water and a sachet of one of those baby bottle sterilising tablets. Apparently you can also just chuck them in the dishwasher on the hottest cycle. I don’t have a dishwasher though *sobs*
While this jam is sweet, it’s also heavily spiced with a nice chili kick, so it’s not really the kind of thing you’d have on your toast. It’s amazing with a cheese platter though and I’ve also used it to glaze some purchased BBQ duck pieces as I was re-heating them. The spices worked perfectly with the rich, fatty duck.
Reserve 4 of the stones. Apparently they contain a lot of natural pectin which helps set the jam.
During the first stage of cooking, gently bash the fruit with a spoon occasionally to help it break down.
Place a plate in the freezer before starting. When you are ready to check if the jam is done, spoon a small dollop on the ice cold plate. Let it set for about 30 seconds then run your finger through the middle. If you get a line through the middle that stays and the jam wrinkles a bit with a thick consistency, then you have made jam!
I gave up looking and didn’t end up taking out all of the cloves or peppercorns, just be aware of them when you are using the jam.
Spiced Plum Jam
Ingredients – Makes approximately 1 cup
- 400g plums, quartered and stoned. 4 of the stones retained
- 1/3 cup red wine
- 2 cloves
- 4 peppercorns
- ¼ tsp chili flakes
- 1 star anise
- 1 bay leaf
- 200g white sugar
- 20ml rice wine vinegar
- ½ tsp fish sauce
- Place a small plate in the freezer.
- Place the plums, retained stones, red wine, spices, bay leaf and ¼ cup of water in medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil then simmer on a medium heat till the fruit is tender and has started to break down. Gently bash with a spoon occasionally to help it break down. This will take around 35 minutes.
- Next, add the sugar, vinegar and fish sauce. Stir constantly until the sugar has all dissolved, then reduce heat to low and stirring often, simmer for around 20 minutes or until jam gels on the frozen plate.
- Remove as many of the whole spices and stones that you can, then carefully transfer the hot jam to a glass jar with a sturdy lid. Turn the jar upside down and let it cool completely, this may take overnight. If using a lid with a pop top, it should depress.
If you are not using a sterilised jar, store in the fridge as soon as it’s completely cooled. This will last for at least a month in the fridge.
If using a sterilised jar this will store in a dry, dark cupboard for at least a year. Refrigerate once opened.