Jammin'

Apricot Jam
Plum Jam

In my own personal opinion, there is nothing more satifying than making your own jam. Not only does it make you a self sufficient and domesticated genius, it helps for when the dosh is low to make perfect gifts, in my case Christmas presents.

I warned everyone in advance that they were getting jam for Christmas, and since I'm not new to jam making and my jam generally turns out well, they all seemed quite happy.
Don't get me wrong though, I have definitely had my badjam days. I took me a while to realise it, but scaling down when it comes to jams doesn't work, more often than not, you end up with fruit flavoured caramel which sticks itself to the jar, and point blank refuses to come out.
Chewy jam doesnt really make it to the top of most people Christmas lists.

But here are some of my tried and tested jam recipes, lovingly copied from a very old cook book.

Jams are originally the result of a glut of fruit left over from harvest time. Since it was such a waste of glorious ripe fruit to throw it away, some genius invented preservation with sugar, thereby creating jams, jellies and preserves. Nowadays jam made commercially contains more than just fruit and sugar. Additional Pectin, which is naturally found in some fruits, and gums such as guar and xantham are added to thicken and set jams, especially with fruit low in their own natural pectin and dried fruits.

Walking in to Fruit and Veg this week I was overwhelmed by the ambrosial smell of ripe apricots, peaches and Nectarines.
For the full flavour and because they are in their best season now, I used dark purple plums and rosy apricots for my two jams.

Jam is always at its best when using fresh and ripe fruit, but I throw in 1 or 2 unripe fruits for added pectin, and to add a tang to very sweet fruit jams.
You are more than welcome to use what fruit you please, but note that you will need to test their pectin before working out their ratio of sugar to fruit.

Both recipes are identical,
so there is no need for me to post two recipes.

Rich ripe Apricot or purple Plum jam
makes 4 (large) jars of jam 

1.5kg of ripe fruit, with a few unripe ones.
1.5kg of granulated sugar
10 Tbsp water (only for plum jam)

Quarter the fruit, and add to a large pot (including the pips).
Add the water to the plums, but not the apricots.
Cook for 5 to 10 minutes until soft.

Here you can choose to cook the fruit until mushy, to get a smooth jam, or leave slightly uncooked to get jam with chunks of fruit in it.

Add the sugar, stirring well to prevent boiling before all sugar crystals have dissolved.

When all sugar is dissolved, bring to the boil and cook until gelling stage has been reached, this can be anything from 10 to 20 minutes of boiling. While the jam is boiling, the pips will rise to the surface, scoop them out and throw away, as the pectin needed will already have been drawn out.

Boil or heat your jam jars and lids in the oven to sterilize and prevent cracking the jars when adding the hot jam.

*I like to cook over a medium heat for slightly longer to prevent discoloring and burning the jam.*

In the first few minutes of boiling, fluff will rise to the surface of the jam, this is impurities from the fruit, that must be skimmed off and removed to achieve a clear jam.

Fill a flat saucer with cold water. When the jam falls off the stirring spoon in small globules, spoon a small amount of jam into the saucer. If it falls and holds a circle it is almost done, if when cooled, the jam wrinkles across its surface when a finger is pushed through it is ready.

*I cook my jam to just before it wrinkles and this gives me a spreadable and slightly softer set jam..*

Pour into hot jars and seal with the lids.

2 comments:

  1. And I always say nothing more satisfying than making a fresh loaf of bread... We are a match!!!

    your little jars are very pretty. Wonderful post (but for me... just too dang hot to think about making jam... give me a month or two)

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  2. It is tricky tho, as in summer our fruit is at its best and sun ripened. I just keep all the windows and doors open.

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