I was slightly disconcerted to see a pear tree the other day absolutely dripping with young fruit. We haven’t exactly had much of a summer so far, and it provided an unwelcome reminder that autumn isn’t actually that far away. But look on the bright side and you realise it’s almost time for… making jam!
OK, jars of jam aren’t exactly the most expensive buy you’ll ever make. But posh jam – the good stuff, packed with fruity flavour rather than overly sweet and sickly – costs a few quid a pop and there’s something special about collecting your fruit and making your own. Back to nature and all that.
You can even pick your own fruit, either out in the countryside or at a PYO farm, which is great fun for the familyas well as good for your spirit.
There are masses of excellent jam recipes online, but they can be complicated. I just scrolled down three pages’ worth for a single recipe. So I’ve dug out a relatively simple jam recipe from my favourite cook book, a 1953 classic I bought on Amazon for £5. Here it is:
DIY strawberry jam
- 1kg strawberries
- 1kg caster sugar
- the juice of half a lemon
- a small knob of butter
- halve your strawberries and remove any squashy bits
- put them in a bowl with 500g sugar, mix well, cover overnight in the fridge
- put a saucer in the fridge to chill
- clean your jam jars by washing them in soapy water, rinsing and drying them upside down in the oven to kill off bacteria
- put the strawberry and sugar mix into a big pan, add the other 500g of sugar and the lemon juice
- stir it over a low heat until the sugar dissolves
- bring it to the boil and boil it hard and fast until the jam sets, which can take as long as half an hour
- how do you know it’s set? Drop a blob of jam onto your chilled saucer. If it goes wrinkly on top after a few seconds, it’s properly set
- turn the heat off, stir in your butter and skim any scummy stuff off the top of your jam with a spoon
- let the whole thing cool off for ten minutes in the pan
- remove your jam jars from the oven and drop the jam in without touching the inside of the jar – a funnel is useful
- cover the jam’s surface with a waxed paper disc and press it down to make a seal
- put the lids on firmly while the jam is still hot
- voila – stash your jars (for as long as a year) and enjoy!
Thanks to http://www.sxc.hu/profile/ivancicas for the beautiful free image)