Being German, and coming from a small village somewhere in the countryside, I grew up being surrounded by trees full of “European plums“, how the British commonly call them, during late Summer and early Autumn. We Germans believe there is a huge difference between this type of plums, called “Zwetschgen“ in German, and those ones you will find in British supermarkets this time of the year.
Yet, “European plums“ can be found in England, too, at farmer’s markets or in independent fruit and veg shops. I saw loads at Borough Market, and am therefore sharing a recipe for oven-baked plum jam with you today.
Even most of the Germans will laugh at me if they find out that my family calls this oven-baked plum jam, commonly called “Zwetschgenmus“ in German, “Hoingk“ (yes, it does sound like the grunt of a pig). But after all that’s how the jam is called in Hesse, where I’m from.
I remember my mum making plum jam every other year for us when I was younger, cooking it on the hob for twelve hours throughout the night. She even occasionally got up in the middle of the night to check on the jam on the hob. The good news is: Thee’s need for that with this oven-baked plum jam. It requires 3 – 4 hours baking time in the oven, plus you should schedule another hour for it to rest before placing it in the oven. Please note that the jam must not be stirred during the cooking time: Let the oven do the work.
Serve the jam on bread, on croissants, on rolls, or on bagels. Spread it on butter, or spread it on cream cheese. It’s a delicious breakfast jam either way, and can be kept on the shelves for a few months, in case you wanted to make more to keep you going until next year’s plum season.
Oven-baked plum jam
For two small jam jars.
1,5 kilograms “European plums“ (or “normal“ plums)
125 grams sugar (I use brown)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons apple vinegar
Wash, halve and core the plums. Transfer them to a large roasting dish, and mix with sugar, cinnamon, cloves and apple vinegar.
Cover the dish, and set aside for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (upper and lower heat), place baking dish on a grid in the bottom half of the oven, bake the plums for 3,5 hours. Do not stir in the meantime, but you may want to push any plums on the surface down into the juice from time to time, to prevent them from burning.
Remove the roasting dish from the oven, mash the plums with a potato masher, and stir in a few dashes of hot water if the jam seems to be too thick.
Return the plums in the oven for another ten minutes, stir well, then transfer the jam to screw top jars whilst the jam is still hot. Cover the jars, turn them onto their lid and allow to set for 10 minutes, then flip them back onto the bottom of the jar and allow to cool entirely.
The jam can be kept for months, once opened, consume within four weeks.
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