Author Topic: World War Two. Plum Jam From Taunton, Somerset  (Read 514 times)

Offline silaswall

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World War Two. Plum Jam From Taunton, Somerset
« on: Saturday 29 December 18 17:01 GMT (UK) »
During the Blitz my late father's family moved from Portsmouth to Taunton having been bombed out twice in ten days. His only surviving brother has always had a liking for plum jam. I gave my uncle a jar of home made jam yesterday evening and he then started telling us about his quest. This is the first time we have heard this story. It seems that he has spent the best part of seventy-seven years trying to find a plum jam like that he tasted in Taunton. It seems every type he has tried has been lacking in the special taste. He cannot remember if the Taunton jam was bought in a shop. Although he does know that it was not rationed. Needless to say we sat there speculating as to what the hidden ingredient might have been or if it was produced by the Women's Institute.

So, are there any experts around who know about cooking at this time? Or, someone who is an expert on local cooking? If so, please could you suggest what the special taste was created by?

He has a significant birthday next year. It just might make it into the cake! Thank you.
Wills Isle of Wight
Webb Hampshire & South Berkshire
Edmund Webb 1828 - 1901

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Offline arthurk

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Re: World War Two. Plum Jam From Taunton, Somerset
« Reply #1 on: Saturday 29 December 18 19:04 GMT (UK) »
I don't know anything about jam making, but I did live in Taunton for a couple of years, and I think we may have some members living there now.

What immediately comes to mind is something to do with apples - cider? Or just apples on their own? A brief web search finds recipes for plum and apple jam; there are also some references to cider vinegar, but I've no idea what that would do in a jam.
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Meaburn, Mennile/Meynell, Metcalf(e), Palliser, Robinson, Rutter, Shipley, Stow, Wilkinson

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Online Jebber

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Re: World War Two. Plum Jam From Taunton, Somerset
« Reply #2 on: Saturday 29 December 18 19:41 GMT (UK) »
 It would all depend on the variety of plum used for the jam he remembers. Also could  he perhaps mean damson jam? They are also known as damson plums and have a different taste.
CHOULES All ,  COKER Harwich Essex & Rochester Kent 
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Offline silaswall

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Re: World War Two. Plum Jam From Taunton, Somerset
« Reply #3 on: Saturday 29 December 18 20:46 GMT (UK) »
Thank you. We wondered if apples may have been added to the plums. Damsons sounds like a good idea and would produce a different taste.
Wills Isle of Wight
Webb Hampshire & South Berkshire
Edmund Webb 1828 - 1901

Offline andrewalston

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Re: World War Two. Plum Jam From Taunton, Somerset
« Reply #4 on: Sunday 30 December 18 11:17 GMT (UK) »
My mum, brought up in Lancashire, remembers jam always being "Mixed Fruit" and always rationed, so the concept of "off ration" implies to her some possible arrangement with the WI, who, I believe had extra sugar made available to deal with available fruit. The recent TV series "Wartime Farm" showed such an operation. Taunton is of course in a fruit growing area.

I understand that plums made up quite a large proportion of "mixed fruit", as they would be a big proportion by weight of the home grown fruit crops.

It is difficult to remove the stones from raw damsons. My mum never even bothered fishing them out of the jam pan after cooking. Does your uncle remember stones in the jar?

There is also a much lighter coloured type of plum, the greengage, which also makes a delicious jam, but is rarely seen in commercial quantities.

Looking at ALSTON in south Ribble area, ALSTEAD and DONBAVAND/DUNBABIN etc. everywhere, HOWCROFT and MARSH in Bolton and Westhoughton, PICKERING in the Whitehaven area.

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Offline silaswall

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Re: World War Two. Plum Jam From Taunton, Somerset
« Reply #5 on: Sunday 30 December 18 11:23 GMT (UK) »
Thank you. That is a great help. I will look at the mixed fruit option. I suspect that the jam was made up of whatever was available. As you point out plums probably made up a significant amount of the mixed fruit. I will ask about the stones.
Wills Isle of Wight
Webb Hampshire & South Berkshire
Edmund Webb 1828 - 1901

Offline Gillg

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Re: World War Two. Plum Jam From Taunton, Somerset
« Reply #6 on: Sunday 30 December 18 11:36 GMT (UK) »
I don't think you would confuse plums with damsons, which are much smaller, darker and sharper in flavour than plums.  Coming from an area favoured with lots of damson trees (the Lyth valley in old Westmorland) I do remember getting rather fed up with damson jam as a child, especially as the stones (apparently 80% of the fruit) were never removed before cooking.  Still, that's the other end of the country and very far from Taunton. The suggestion that apples were used with plums in that mystery jam sounds likely in Somerset.
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Offline mazi

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Re: World War Two. Plum Jam From Taunton, Somerset
« Reply #7 on: Sunday 30 December 18 15:48 GMT (UK) »
It would all depend on the variety of plum used for the jam he remembers. Also could  he perhaps mean damson jam? They are also known as damson plums and have a different taste.

Perhaps it tasted so good because it was homemade and had plums and sugar in it, not bulked up with apple purée

“Belle de Louvain” was a cooking/jam plum of that era, noted for its flavour.

3lb plums 3lbs cane sugar, half pint water, the rough peeled skin of a bramley apple.
The stones will rise to the surface when it is at setting point.

Mike

Offline silaswall

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Re: World War Two. Plum Jam From Taunton, Somerset
« Reply #8 on: Sunday 30 December 18 16:12 GMT (UK) »
Thank you Mike. I have also wondered if it was the homemade taste that made the difference. As they came from the centre of Portsmouth I suspect they had only tasted processed jam until then.
Wills Isle of Wight
Webb Hampshire & South Berkshire
Edmund Webb 1828 - 1901