Plums by Pierre Bonnard




3 lb plums

A handful of blackcurrants (optional)

¾ pint water

3 lb sugar


The blackcurrants add a good extra taste and help with the setting, but they do make the jam fairly unsweet.


Stone the plums (optional at this stage) and chop them roughly. Simmer with the blackcurrants and the water for 15-20 minutes or until very soft. Add the sugar and dissolve over a low heat. Boil, stirring, until setting point is reached, removing the stones as they rise to the surface if the plums have not already been stoned. Strain off the scum and leave to cool slightly. Pot and cover.



4 lb blackberries

1 ½ sour apples (e.g. Bramleys)

¾ pint water

sugar (granulated or preserving)


Wash blackberries and stew the wet fruit over a very low heat until the juices have run out and the fruit is soft. Pass it through a fine sieve or vegetable mill so that all the seeds are left behind. Peel, core and cut up the apples and stew in ¾ pint water until soft. Add the blackberry pulp.  Weigh and add an equal weight of warmed sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Boil steadily for 20 minutes or until setting point is reached. Pot and cover.





4 lb quince

4 tablespoons lemon juice

6 pints water

Approx 4 lb granulated or conserving sugar


Wash the quinces and cut into 1-2 inch pieces, discarding any rotten bits (cores and skin can be kept). Put the fruit into a large saucepan with the lemon juice and water and bring to the boil. Keeping the pan covered, simmer until the quinces are very soft (about 1½ hours). Hang a previously scalded and moistened felt jelly bag above a large basin (perfectionists would line the jelly-bag with muslin). Pour the quinces and their juice into the jelly-bag and leave to strain for several hours.


Measure out the juice and for each pint of juice allow 1 lb of sugar. Put the sugar in a shallow bowl to heat in the oven while you bring the juice to the boil in a preserving pan or other large saucepan (wide rather than high). Add the sugar gradually and stir until dissolved. Boil as fast as you can until the mixture reaches setting point (about 30 minutes – the  liquid begins to rise up in bubbles). While the liquid is boiling, place clean jam-jars in the oven to heat up (this amount should make 6-8 pots of jelly). You can test for setting point by pouring a teaspoon of the liquid onto a saucer which you place (tilted so that the liquid accumulates to one side) in the freezer for a couple of minutes. Take it out and push the side of the glob of liquid with your nail. If it wrinkles, it is ready; if it is still very liquid, the mixture needs to be cooked a bit more. When the jelly is ready, perfectionists can remove scum by drawing sheets of kitchen paper over the surface of the liquid.


Pour or ladle the liquid into the jam-jars while still very hot, or it risks setting in the pan. Use a clean damp cloth to remove any jelly that has spilt down the side of the pots. Put the pots close together and place a clean dishcloth over them while they cool for couple of hours (this prevents water accumulating on the lids). Then put their lids on tightly.

Quinces by Vincent van Gogh