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Posts tagged ‘#jam making’

Strawberry Jam

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Strawberries are in season August through to November, depending on the season, and are plentiful and cheap at the moment. When fruit is at the height of the season is also the best time to make jam, as the quality of the fruit will be at its peak. Strawberry jam can be difficult to set, and more than once I’ve ended up making strawberry sauce instead of jam, but no matter what happens, it’s great to eat!

Ingredients

Equal amount strawberries to sugar – this batch used 1.25 kg strawberries
1.25 kg sugar
Juice of half a large lemon

Method

Trim the tops of the strawberries and cut in half. Place in pan with the sugar, and gently heat to dissolve the sugar. Don’t allow to boil until the sugar is dissolved.

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With a pastry brush, brush away any sugar crystals on the side of the pan with a little water.

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Once the sugar is dissolved, boil rapidly, stirring occasionally.

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Keep boiling rapidly until the setting point is reached (104 degrees) and the jam jells. You can tell when it is set as the bubbles change to more of a rolling boil, and more “spits” are sent up. Either use a candy thermometer, use the “wrinkle” test on a cold plate (the jam will wrinkle and stay apart when you run a finger through a small amount on the plate), or see if it “sheets” off the spoon (see other jam recipes on this website to see how that is done).

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When the jam is jelled, take it off the heat, and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes and skim the foam off the top. Pour into heated and sterilised jars using a heated glass jug. Seal immediately. This recipe made four 500g jars of delicious jam.

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Fig Jam

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Figs are still available in the shops in late Autumn, and they can make fantastic jam. I also like to make fig and ginger jam, as it is superb eaten with cheese, especially brie, camembert, and blue vein. Match made in heaven!

Figs are an unusual fruit, as they are inside out. They are one of the earliest fruits, and feature in the Bible and many early writings. I think they make an outstanding jam, but it isn’t exactly economical to make! It is also notoriously fickle, and has a nasty habit of burning on the bottom of the pan. Luckily burnt fig jam is another sub-genre, and pretty good too!

Ingredients

Figs
sugar
lemon

Method

Trim the top off the figs and cut into quarters. Sprinkle with sugar, the same weight as the figs, and leave overnight, or at least 4-5 hours so that they disgorge all of their liquid.

Place in a pan with the strained juice of one or two lemons (depending on the weight of the figs – for a large batch use two lemons), and ensure that the sugar is fully dissolved before you bring the mixture to the boil.

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Once the sugar is dissolved, boil rapidly until the jam reaches the set point (104 degrees C). Either use a sugar thermometer (highly recommended), use the “wrinkle test” (place a small teaspoon of jam on a plate, and draw your finger through – if the jam wrinkles and holds it shape, it is done); watch for it “sheeting” off the spoon; or look for changes to look and feel and smell, in particular the bubbles will get much bigger, the mixture will try to boil over, and it will send up a some spits.

Fig jam will jell quite quickly, particularly using this method, and needs to be carefully watched and frequently stirred. If it does stick to the bottom and burn, you can still save the mixture by not stirring in the burned bits from the bottom.

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Once the jam has jelled, take it immediately off the heat, wait five minutes and bottle immediately into heated, sterilised jars (see Orange Marmalade recipe for how to do this). Lid immediately.

Hint – pans and jam making equipment are easy to clean when soaked in cold water – just rinse off, and no detergent or further washing required. Same with any spills on the stove, just soak in cold water and wipe straight off. As with all preserves, the hot mix is very dangerous and can cause very nasty burns. Never make jam with little children around, and always wear oven mits, and take care when handling the mixture.

Jams, jellies and marmalades

preserves jars on display

Entering the Preserves section of a Show can be one of the most daunting, frustrating and rewarding experiences you can have in cooking. But making the perfect clear glistening jelly or marmalade an is an incredibly satisfying experience. Getting it to set properly is another story, which will be the subject of another post! Ultimately, the only way to succeed in the Preserves section is practice, practice, practice, and to learn by your mistakes.
• For jam making, cut fruit evenly, don’t over boil. Use a candy thermometer (available at kitchen shops) for more accurate cooking to test for jelling point. A thermometer is much better than guesswork for Show work. Even then, you need to use your judgment
• Cut fruit for marmalade as finely as possible for Show work. Marmalade should be clear, with fruit evenly suspended. After soaking fruit overnight, cook thoroughly before adding sugar. This is absolutely critical. Most recipes specify an hour cooking before adding sugar to marmalade.
• For jelly making, after fruit has cooked, allow to drip through jelly bag overnight, without squeezing. Jelly should be completely clear and properly set.
• Ensure that jars are properly sterilized before use. Clean in dishwasher if possible, and then thoroughly sterilise before using. Use oven mits to avoid burns with hot jars and preserves.
• Put lids on jars immediately after filling with preserves to inhibit moulds. Store carefully – in the fridge if necessary.
• Make chutneys a month or two ahead of time if possible to allow flavours to develop. This is a common reason why otherwise great chutneys don’t make it to the winner’s circle. If you make it the day before the Show, unfortunately it will taste like it.
• Jam, jelly and marmalade making is often a frustrating experience. Sometimes the fruit is overripe, there was too much rain before the fruit was picked and not enough pectin in the fruit, or it just doesn’t work out. It happens to everyone, and sometimes when it doesn’t jell, it’s nothing to do with the skill of the cook. If instead of a jam you have a runny sauce, your family might appreciate a nice dessert sauce instead!