Prep time 20 mins Cooking time 15 mins Makes 1 kg
1 kg damask or small plums 1 small cinnamon stick 2 cloves 2cm knob of ginger, sliced Rind of half a lemon 150ml balsamic vinegar 450g brown sugar
Wash the plums and remove stalks. Use a small piece of muslin to make a bouquet garni containing the spices, ginger and lemon rind and place this in a saucepan with the vinegar and sugar. Heat on a medium setting and stir until the sugar dissolves. Prick the skins of the plums to prevent them from bursting, then add them to the saucepan. Simmer until tender but not disintegrated (about 15 minutes). Remove the bouquet garni and drain the fruit, but reserve the liquid. Fill four 250ml sterlised jars with the plums. Return the vinegar mixture to the stove and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer until reduced and thickened to a syrupy consistency. Allow to cool slightly, then pour over the plums and seal the jars tightly. Their flavour will improve with time (try after six months). The plums are delicious with a strong cheese such as mature cheddar.