The Cotswold county of Worcestershire has many uniquely strange traditional foods and drinks. Besides the obvious Worcestershire sauce its natives are also responsible for such delights as ‘potted lamperns’* and fermented plum juice, known round them parts as ‘plum jerkum’.
Plum jerkum is made in the same way as cider: pressed (or ‘jerked’) fruit, with the extracted juice chucked into a fermenting vessel and allowed to turn to alcohol. The resulting grog was often blended with cider – according to Wikipedia this was to reduce its alcoholic potency, but knowing how strong they like their ciders up there we suspect it was also to take away some of the acidity of the plums.
If you take a stroll through the internet looking for plum jerkum recipes then most will tell you to boil the fruit in water and add sugar. Which sounds very much like a standard wine making recipe and not the aforementioned cider method.
So we’re beginning our own plum jerkum experiments. First up we’re trying a job lot of acme round red plums, which are unlikely to be anything like those found in north Cotswolds villages of yesteryear. We have too few to trouble the cider press so the juicer has been summoned into action. And we’re also deploying our half sized demijohn (a demidemijohn?) so if you want to try this with a regular DJ then you’ll have to double your plum numbers
Our easy plum jerkum trial recipe #1
Wash and stone around 5.5kg of plums. Drop into juicer. Juice. Skim off foam and pour into demijohn. Add a crushed campden tablet. The next morning add a sachet of wine yeast. Stir. Fit airlock. Wait. Bottle. Wait some more. Drink.
The initial juice is very acidic and it took several days for a proper fermentation to kick in, but it’s now bubbling away merrily and has a glorious pink hue. We’ll keep you updated with its progress and will continue our trials for the ultimate plum jerkum recipe.
*Made by boning and boiling the small, eel-like lampreys and stuffing them into jars with butter and herbs. Probably goes well with a glass of plum jerkum…