Plum and Cherry relish

I’m a huge fan of plums and have been gathering plum recipes for a bit, especially as the Plum fairs in Newburgh are in full swing.

A client brought a bag of plums around the other day and I had foolishly neglected them, so I used what I could and looked around my many plum recipes for one that would suit ripe plums. I found Plum and Cherry relish in one of my favourite books. It was a book that I found in Bargain books many years ago , but the writing is clear and concise, the pictures are great and it gives a wide variety of preserving recipes and offers variations on a theme.

IMG_4360 ISBN 1-84477-016-8


What more could you want? Other than the ingredients they ask for…. bodge meister comes to the fore again.

I scaled up the recipes a bit – it does work for small batches great, as I had more plums than they suggested.

So 580 gm of plums, halved, stoned and roughly chopped

and an equal amount of cherries (first bodge – no fresh cherries so I used dried sour cherries that I use with the chocolates ) and as they were dried I used a bit less = 500gm.  I didn’t chop the cherries as I wanted them whole and the relish to end up chunky (which it did), but if you like a smoother relish, then chop them up if you’re using the dried fruit .Set aside the fruit.

IMG_4356 they are indeed tart, and they are apparently Montmorency cherries

3 shallots are meant to be used but I didn’t have them either – so used I red onion and 1 small white onion, chopped and fried until lightly softened. ( 5mins or so)

I didn’t use the olive oil suggested for cooking, that would be normal! Instead I used 1 tbs solid coconut oil, which comes over slightly in the finished relish. I couldn’t help think of bakewell tarts – as you do when making a pickle- and thought that coconut and cherry would go well together.

The recipe called for 3 tbs of sherry – which of course, I didn’t have – so I bodged with 3 tbs of elderberry gin that I had left over from last years foraging and making things – complete with boozy elderberries still sitting in the gin! Too good a bodge to resist. Add the Elderberry gin ( and some boozy elderberries) in to the softened onions, along with 6 tbs of red wine vinegar.

The recipe also wanted balsamic vinegar – which, surprise, surprise, I didn’t have, so I used one that I’d bought – a Raspberry, mint and chilli vinegar – 1 1/2 tbs of that added in.

Add the fruit to the onion and vinegar mix.  Add the sugar – I used raw demerara sugar 120gm. Add a bay leaf in too, though that’s optional, and as I was going for a sweeter relish I missed it out.


Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Then keep the heat on strong and keep boiling until the amount of liquid has reduced and the relish is quite thick – the book says 15 mins but I found it took nearly 25, and that’s with the dried cherries that will be soaking up the liquids and thickening up things quicker. It may take you longer again if you’re going with fresh fruit.

If you added a bay leaf, don’t forget to remove it – without burning yourself!

Spoon the thick hot (be careful, it may not be jam but still has a high sugar content so it will be very hot if spilled on yourself) relish into appropriate sterilised jars.

I made 5 good sized jars from this and it tastes so scrummy I’ve found myself almost using it like a jam. It starts out with cheese on oatcakes then ends up on the oatcake on its own!

The jars I used are Ikea’s spice jars, 4 in a pack, which may give you an idea re size.

Enjoy plum season and any recipes you think I’d like, feel free to share 😉