So the other day I mentioned one classic solution to excess foraged fruits at this time of year (in the form of crumble) and so here’s its non-identical twin… jam!
People assume jam-making is difficult, and it’s understandable since some preserves are quite tricky, like chutneys & curds. But jam is easy. Easy peasy. Trust me on this one… I made it with a 3 & a 4 year-old last week. So here’s my easy as 1-2-3 jam method.
ONE: You have a quantity (you decide, but make sure you know how much it is, for example 250g) of washed fruits. I used blackberries & chopped, skinned apples*. You need to add the same amount of jam sugar (e.g. if you have 250g of fruits, you need 250g jam sugar. Got it?). Put it in a pan, add a good squeeze of lemon juice, stir and bring to the boil.
TWO: Your fruit is boiling – put a little saucer in the freezer. There’s no need for a sugar thermometer for many recipes, including jam, as long as you know a couple of clever tricks. After about 10 minutes of boiling your jam mixture, drop a teaspoonful onto the very cold plate. If a skin starts to form (see above) within 30 seconds or so, your jam is ready.
THREE: Finally, you need to pour your jam into jars. There is one key rule to jam-making – jam goes mouldy really easily (something to do with loads of sugar – and yes, that’s the technical explanation), so make sure your jars are squeaky clean – filling them with boiling water until you need them & then drying/keeping them warm in the oven is a good idea. I put a little greaseproof ring on the top to keep it ‘sealed’ until you need it.
And that’s it. You can alter this for many types of jam! I use the store-bought ‘jam sugar’ which is basically sugar with added pectin (the stuff that makes the jam set – and again yes that’s the technical explanation). However, it has recently come to my attention that this costs about twice as much as regular sugar. Now either I haven’t noticed this before, or the supermarkets know about jam-making season and put the prices up (I mean really, would you be surprised?). So I might start buying pectin separately if it’s cheaper. Just a little hint to those with tight budgets out there… At least the fruit is free!
*One thing – apples take a bit longer to cook than berries, so in this unusual case I cooked the apples first by boiling them in water for about 10 mins. But that doesn’t exactly make it much harder!