lo and behold - the results of a late night jam session:
pretty pleased with the result. had some for breakfast this morning and was exactly how i wanted it: still freshly red, a nice consistency, not too sweet, and with a nice tartness thanks to some well-judged lemon juice. max told me, 'mummy, you make the best jam!', which made me feel quite chuffed (usually this praise is reserved for his grosmami, and ok, it helped that i also had bought his favourite bread rolls for breakfast ).
i have to admit i took a rather haphazard approach to the actual jam-making. i took a look at the recipe for clotilde's lovely sounding strawberry jam with black pepper and mint but it takes like 3 days to make and i wanted instant gratification. so i checked out the recipe in my trusty edmonds cookbook and used that as a guide. the resulting jam is a kind of rough and ready lumpy-ish jam, not at all elegant and refined, but exactly how i imagined it to be - the type of jam you can slather thickly on fresh baked scones (ooh! more afternoon tea ideas) or hearty wholemeal or grain bread. i ended up with about 6 jars - 3 medium and 3 small. this is a good amount, i think - you can never be sure if that particular batch will turn out wonderfully or be totally awful, so this is a good amount in between: if it's great, you have enough, if it's awful there's not so much that you'll be eating it for the rest of the year.
so - a recipe of sorts:
a nice strawberry jam
- 1.5 kg strawberries, hulled, halved or quartered depending on how you like to eat 'em
- 1 kg of jam sugar (gelvite is the brand here - it jellies. you can use normal white sugar if you can't get jam sugar)
- juice of 1.5 or 2 lemons (i only had 1.5 lemons around)
- sterilised jars and lids
- put strawberries into a big pot with sugar and lemon juice. you can crush the berries lightly with a potato masher if you want smoother jam, but the berries tend to disintegrate pretty much anyway.
- bring to the boil, then simmer at boiling point until setting point is reached: the test that i use is when the last drop hangs off the wooden spoon and doesn't fall, just hangs there or retracts slightly. setting point may take about 20 mins or so ( i think! i wasn't taking too much notice because lola was having a crying spell). i wanted to make sure i didn't over-cook it because over-cooked strawberry jams are very ordinary and lose that fresh fragrant sweetness - you may as well buy supermarket jam.
- skim the foam off if you like. i did, because i love the clarity you get. however, it certainly isn't necessary, so if you can't be bothered, don't worry.
- when the jam is sufficiently set, ladle into sterilised jars and seal. yum!
- a note about sterilising: again, i'm pretty haphazard when it comes to sterilising...it comes from our friend peter, a prof. of microbiology who says that you don't really need to bother too much about sterilising. when he makes jam he merely washes the jars, lids and other equipment well in hot soapy water and rinses well in hot water before use (leave the jars etc in until the last minute). i usually follow his example and i've never had any trouble with bugs! all that drying in a hot oven business just makes jam-making very tedious, i find. however, i'm not sure how folproof this method is if you are planning to store the jam away for years. we usually only make enough for a year, so we haven't got jam from years ago sitting around, potentially icky and buggy.
- ps. it's a good idea to wash up all the jammy equipment straight away cos it's a total pain in the a. to clean up once it's all hard and sticky....we learnt the hard way.
today i am going to LABEL the jam - something i usually forget to do, and which causes much confusion in about 9 months time when i am searching around in the cupboard for some jam and i can't figure out what type it is or how old it is....
- apricots are next on my jam list. i've got some ripening up on the bench right now.....