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Posts Tagged ‘make your own jam’

Despite trying my best to grow strawberries and raspberries year after year, we have never really had much success (see picture below for this year’s harvest!)

We have a relatively huge space dedicated to them, and have painstakingly planted, weeded, watered and checked the crop.  We got a handful this year, but it was all very disappointing.

Things came to a crisis point when we recently ran out of the 2008 supply of homemade jam.  As we used the last drop, with no sign of our own glut, something had to be done.  So we went to Garson’s pick your own farm, in Esher, Surrey.  What a find!  There are as many as 40 crops you can pick throughout the year, depending on season.  They have popular crops such as strawberries in succession, so you can pick them more or less any time from spring to autumn.

I can’t quite put my finger on why our home-made jam is so special and so essential in my kitchen.

It could be that the jam is made with fresh and ripe fruit, usually on the same day as picking?

It could be the dash of balsamic vinegar that Nigella recommended?

It could be the gooey lumpiness which it has, rather than the pert jelliness of shop bought jam?

Whatever it is, it makes it well worth the hours of picking, preparing, cooking and putting into jars.  I am so looking forward to that first batch of scones with cream and jam.

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Last year, a very kind lady on the site gave us enough of her strawberry surplus to make jam.  The batch was so large that the very last jar is still in the fridge.

Unfortunately, this year we got quite slim pickings from the strawberry plot.  We had enough to eat fresh, but no major gluts of strawberries to make into jam.  I wasn’t even a real fan of jam before we made our own, but it turned out to be one of those home mades that are really worth it.

The fresh, intense fruit taste was better than any shop bought equivalent.  I have to admit that I am not that keen on the usual array of home-made combinations, like rhubarb jam with ginger or whatever, but plain old strawberry jam has been made into a million cream teas, puddings etc.

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Punnets of strawberries going for a song in the supermarket, which I just couldn’t resist.   Only 80p each, but they had to be used quickly.  Luckily it is one of the easiest things to make, even though I did only finish just before midnight.

Strawberry Jam

1 kilo strawberries
1 kilo preserving sugar
2 tbsps of balsamic vinegar (or balsamic glaze in my case)
juice of 2 lemons
Lots of clean jars, freshly run through the dishwasher

Comments: It doesn’t actually taste of the lemon or balsamic, but they give it an extra kick.  In the case of the lemon it provides the pectin to set the jam (or it is supposed to).  In my experience, the recipe above with preserving sugar never bloomin sets, but it does look and taste gorgeous.  An easier version is to use jam sugar, which has pectin added.  It is cloudier and a bit more like the ones in the shops, but it does set.

  • First you measure out 1kilo of strawberries and 1 kilo of sugar.

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  • Put them in a pan.  I ripped up the strawberries because they were very large, but smaller ones can go in whole.
  • Heat up slowly, but not too slowly, stirring every so often.

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  • Once it reaches the boil, time it and start testing after about 5 mins.  Check by putting a teaspoon onto a saucer, and if it wrinkles, it is ready.  Leave for a little while to cool down before filling jars and putting the lids straight on.

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Tip: Leave the jars in the dishwasher until you are ready to fill them.  I find this keeps them totally sterile and no need for further sterilising.

Serve with home-made scones, heated in microwave for 20 secs, plus clotted cream.  Yum, and totally unhealthy.

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