Blue plums = red jam

I have never quite understood how blue skinned plums with green or yellow flesh can boil up into a rich red jam or chutney. But there’s some alchemy there that turns plum preserves into one of the prettiest jams there is, and I have a whole shelf full of the magic to enjoy over the year ahead.

This year’s plum stuff included a couple of attempts to use up the fennel flowers, plus a batch of  the chewy plum-star anise jam from last year, although I used German blue plums instead of the damsons I found last year. It’s based on a recipe from the lovely Food in Jars web site, although I played around with the quantities to match the amount of plums available. I ended up with 5 cups of plums,  3 of sugar and the juice of two lemons, along with a generous spoonful of chopped ginger root and 3 super-fresh star anise stars.

From there it was on to chutney, and I loved the look of this offering from the strangely named Evil Mad Scientist web site. It uses lemons and lemon juice rather than vinegar,  and there seemed to be a nice mix of the sort of spices that I like. I did about 2/3 of the recipe, but kept the spice levels more or less the same, as well as doubling the ginger. It’s nice, with a decent kick, and will (as chutneys do) presumably only get better with time.

But there were still a lot of plums to use, so I hit the internet again for a similar-yet-different plum apple chutney from the BBC’s Good Food web site. It’s heavy on the garlic, and a little sweeter than I would like, probably because Canadian Macintosh apples are sweeter than the Bramley cooking apples I grew up with.

Memo to Canadian growers: why does nobody here (or indeed anywhere in North America) grow a good Bramley apple, which are huge and sour, and which melt away to velvet applesauce in no time at all?

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