Thursday August 04th 2011, 4:04 pm

Blaisdon plums ripening on the tree

Just drove up the road to my house and the road side is lined with windfall plums, like a guard of honor greeting me back home. The plum thing round here is just about to kick off and I want to be ready to make the most of this abundant harvest. It’s on the doorstep and comes for free. I have written about Blaisdons, our local plum variety before and last year bottled them, see here . I also bottled squashed plums very simply, stoned and cooked in a light syrup. They were delicious and kept me in dessert for several months with custard, yogurt or cake. I need more of them alright, the larder needs to be well-stocked to take me through the winter.

Blaisdon plums picked and ready for jammin'

So to ease my way into the season I thought I’d start with a jam. I generally find plum jam quite uninspiring and one dimensional, so this jam called for the addition of careful thought to really make it sing. As I said on Facebook yesterday, good jam does not come from throwing everything in a pan and boiling like billio. That’s just stewing fruit and you end up with jars of sweet pink mush that somehow remain in the larder for years and that you are unable to ever get rid of. I want to make jam that is so fantastic that you quickly run out and vow you’ll make more next year. I like to macerate the fruit to draw out the juice and the fresh flavours and this method suits my way of life really well. It means you can begin to process your newly picked fruit at it’s freshest without having to get the jars and all the other paraphernalia ready. It gives you a day or two’s grace to get your head round the task in hand. You do need lots of bowls and in my kitchen and sitting room table-top space is often at a premium as bowls of fruit covered with cling film wait their turn, all topped and labeled with post it notes.

plums, sugar and lavender macerating for jam

I mentioned in my last post that using lavender as a flavouring requires a light touch. It needs to be just present so it’s hard to put your finger on just what the flavouring is, to really work. This jam is delicious and is a brilliant colour too. The cooking time is kept to a minimum without too much sugar, so the plums have a tart edge to them, which any good jam should have in my opinion. I used lavender recently harvested from the garden, so though dry is also very fresh. Blaisdon plums are a cling-stone plum, so you either remove the stones after cooking them, filching them out one by one, or you cut the flesh from the stone. Some of my plums were windfalls so I needed to cut off any bruised and manky bits, so the second method, though time consuming, worked well in this instance. I have no doubt that as the season progresses, stone filching will become tedious. Right now I’m just loving the thrill of anticipation. Blaisdons – bring them on!


Makes 1.125 kg (2lbs 4oz)

1.2Kg ( 2lb 8oz) plums or 1kg (2lb 4oz) when stoned
750g ( 1lb 12oz) sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp dried lavender

Chop the plums into quarters and remove the stones. Place the fruit in a bowl layered with the sugar, add the lemon juice and push the lavender, tied in a piece of muslin, down into the fruit. Cover and leave overnight to macerate.
Next day, pour the contents of the bowl into a pan and heat it through stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Bring to a simmer then remove from the heat, pour back into the bowl, push a piece of greaseproof paper down onto the surface of the bowl’s contents, then cover and leave to macerate for anything between 3 – 24 hours, whatever fits into your schedule.
If you plan to can or water process your jam, prepare your jars and seals, otherwise make sure your jam jars and lids are clean and hot by placing them in a warm oven for 20 minutes. Remove the lavender bundle, then with a slotted spoon remove the plum pieces from the syrup. There is no need to be too painstaking about this, it just means that your finished jam will have some nice chunks of plum flesh instead of it all being cooked into an homogenised mass!
Place the remaining syrup in a preserving pan, heat to boiling then maintain at a rolling boil until it reaches setting point. This took me about 10 minutes to achieve. Add the plum pieces and bring back to the boil and check for setting point again. Pour the jam into hot jars and seal. If you are canning your jam, process for 10 minutes then remove from the canner. Leave till cold, then test the seals. Label and date your jam.

Blaisdon plum and lavender jam

What a lovely read.Bought plums today for w e jam session. xx

Comment by carla tomasi 08.04.11 @ 5:29 pm

Maceration is a gift, so true! That’s a gorgeous plum jam, there.

Comment by Julia 08.04.11 @ 8:10 pm

Hi Gloria,

What a great (and timely) post. I have an abundance of plums, mostly wild but I have purple, green, and rosy peach colored. I have never used lavender from the garden but I have some now. How much do you put in if it is fresh? I’m afraid I’ll overdo it and it will taste like soap.


Comment by Bonnie 08.04.11 @ 11:00 pm


You would usually use double the amount if using fresh. I’d be inclined to use 1 1/2 Tbsp and err on the side of caution. Would also depend if flower heads whole or off the stems, as you’d get more on a spoon without stems.

Comment by laundryetc 08.05.11 @ 11:06 am

Sounds even better than the Plum Jam with Bay & Vanilla I was about to try next!

Comment by Diana B 08.06.11 @ 1:01 am

“end up with jars of sweet pink mush” Ha Ha! Sounds like my kitchen last year. Thanks for posting the correct method. I am going to have to try this – that picture looks really good!

Comment by Dr Z- Manchester 08.07.11 @ 8:01 pm

[…] Preserves & Pickles and all around nice person, for her advice. She sent me this recipe for Blaisdon Plum & Lavender Jam. She macerates the fruit before turning it into jam, arguing that… …good jam does not […]

Pingback by Mirabelle Plum Jam » SmarterFitter 08.15.11 @ 11:02 am

Wow I am just about to embark on my first jam making session, love your blog. kxxx

Comment by Karen 08.24.11 @ 11:26 am

My husband once made a lovely plum wine after a neighbour gave us free rein with the harvest from his two italian plum trees. The wine was very delicate, yet had a really plummy flavour without that nasty “homemade fruit wine” aftertaste.

Comment by KLF 08.24.11 @ 7:43 pm

[…] jam.  Some combos we tried:  Peach with Honey, Vanilla Bean and Brandy (wow – the smell!), Plum Lavender (AMAZING!!), Peach-Plum Ginger, Plum Noir (ooh lala!), and a couple of original creations, […]

Pingback by Jam Fever! « The Lazy Homesteader 09.17.11 @ 4:07 am

I had some of this at the Orchard Cottage with Monica Shaw yesterday and it was fabulous!

Comment by Kanna 04.28.13 @ 7:23 am

Can you suggest an alternative to lavender in this recipe? I have plums. Want to make jam. No lavender. What’s a girl to do?

Comment by Monica 09.16.13 @ 6:08 am