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Spinach Dumplings with Spicy Tomato Sauce, 28p a serving
Olive, Soft Cheese and Cucumber Sandwich, 30p

Jars of jamWell, the plum jam is LOVELY, although a tad sweet, so next batch, I’ll try using less sugar.

If you have plums to use, this might be of interest. Some people can forage plums, but I’ve never been lucky enough to see a tree to forage from.

For the five jars I made, you will need a kilo of plums and a kilo of sugar. Although next time I will try 750g instead of a kilo of sugar. You can use some cooking apples in with the plums if you don’t have many. Cooking apples have a good amount of pectin which is the thing that makes jam set. If you can get some un-ripe plums mixed in with your fruit, they have more pectin too.

Put the plums in a large, heavy based pan, preferably a preserving pan if you can, with 250ml water. Simmer them until soft. I removed the stones beforehand as some of my plums have maggots in and I didn’t want to preserve them, yeargh. You could leave the plums whole if you don’t have this issue and skim the stones off as they come out of the fruit.

Or you can crack some of the stones and add some of the kernels for an intriguing almond flavour.

When the fruit is cooked, add the sugar and stir until dissolved, then boil fairly rapidly until setting point is reached, about 220F degrees. It shouldn’t take ages and ages. The sooner setting point is reached, the fresher and more fruity your jam will taste.

You can use a sugar thermometer for this, I use the one that I stab into a chicken to know if it is done. Or chill a small plate in the fridge and put some of the jam on it, just a tsp and put back in the fridge. After a minute, take it out and gently push it with a finger. If the top ruffles up and has a skin, it has reached setting point and you can pot it.

While the jam is boiling, get your jam jars and make them squeakily clean and dry. Give them a good wash, dry them with a clean tea towel and pop them in a warm oven to make really dry, and warm.

When your jam is ready, skim off any scum. Or stir in a little knob of butter or spread, it dissolves some of the scum back into the jam. Carefully ladle the jam into the warm jars. If you have any, put a wax circle on top of the jam, it helps prevent mould forming. If you have jars with lids, pop them on now, while the jam is still hot. Otherwise, put the cellophane circles on with the little elastic bands to keep them clean.

If you don’t have any of those, you can wait until it’s cold, and freeze it.

If you get your fruit for free, this jam costs just 18p a jar.

Jam can be used in lots of ways. With pancakes, on rice pudding, on toast for breakfast, as the sweet layer in a steamed sponge or cake, in oaty breakfast bars (flapjacks with a layer of jam in the middle), I’m sure you know lots of ways to use it 🙂

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Spinach Dumplings with Spicy Tomato Sauce, 28p a serving
Olive, Soft Cheese and Cucumber Sandwich, 30p
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