Friday, 26 August 2011

Jam Time

Jam is a bit of chemistry. So this recipe has no weights, as it’s not exact. You usually use equal weights of fruit as you do preserve sugar but that can vary on pectin content of fruit and the temperature of the mixture. What I will say is this: as long as you keep stirring, and do not allow the jam to burn, it can be saved. If it gets too thick add some water, if it is too runny reheat it and boil it for a bit more.

For this recipe I used Strawberries and blackberries.
Preserve sugar
HOME COOK conserves strawberry (this is a bit of a cheat)
A knob of butter

Firstly place a side plate in the fridge you’ll need it later. To start with you soak your fruit in salted water over night if like me you collected it from the wild as opposed to store bought. If you bought your fruit from the store give it a rise. Then remove any leaves from the strawberries or twiggy bits left on the berries. While doing this quarter the strawberries. Add them to the pan and set on a medium light. You don’t need to be gentle you want them to mainly break up.

The fruit juice will start to be released from the fruit and it will smell delicious. Keep constantly stirring the mixture as it can be at rise of the fruit sticking. Here you can add the HOME COOK conserve strawberry. It is a bit of a cheat because you can use this to make jam without any of the fun of cutting up fruit but I use it does bulk up the quantity and it helps get the consistency right. I bought the tin I used at Lakeland.

Yeah my mim helped :)

Here you can turn up the temperature on you stove as the liquid helps the jam from sticking.  You then add the preserve sugar; add the same weight as fruit you used.  Keep stirring.

Bring the Jam up to a rolling boil. Keep stirring. You want a constant boil that does not slow when stirred. Here add a knob of butter to reduce the foamy scum.

Here turn off the heat, put your oven on to a medium heat and boil the kettle. Pour boiled water into jars; I used kilner jars and recycled other jam jars. Then to dry the jars out place them in the preheated oven upside down and leave for five minutes.

 During this five-minute turn the heat back on under the jam and bring it back up to a rolling boil. Stirring CONSTANTLY and despite the fact it smells like heaven do not even think of dipping your finger in it. You will feel the burn of a thousand suns.

Take your plate out the fridge and drip some of the jam onto the plate. If after thirty seconds if the jam is solidish to the touch, consistent with jam, then its time to pot up. Take your jars out the oven using oven mitts and place them on a heat resistant surface. The either using a jug or a funnel and lifting the pan, pour the jam into the jars leaving as little space as you can.

Once the pan is empty and cooled slightly use a lump of bread to wipe as much of the jam off as you can, you get a taste of your jam early and it makes the pan easier to clean. Once the jam in the jars has cooled enough that it has started to solidify place a parchment ring on top of the jam, this helps create surface tension allowing the jam to set more evenly and reduce any air left in the mixture which might make it go bad. Leave until totally cooled before sealing the jars, as you don’t want to trap condensation in the jar as this increases the likelihood of bacteria growth. Then you are done.

Belinda Stepford

Monday, 15 August 2011

Whats Been Going On...

I've been rushed off my feet lately, between starting work and getting ready for university I've not posted in a while. One of the things thats been occupying my time has been making chutney with my Mim. One of my fathers friends is a green grocer and he gave us a massive box full of mixed vegetables that needed to be used quickly, so we made vats full of preserve. We made it up as we went so there's no recipe. 

I've also been shopping for University things. So far my favourite buy has some plates that I bought in a Habitat closing down sale. Habitat was a very well regarded british design store that was another victim of the economy failing.  My Mim and I where shopping and I went in originally looking for a bedside lamp but from across an aisle I noticed a plate and HAD to have it. Then I noticed the other plates and bought the lot. I asked if there where anymore things in the range like bowls but unfortunately that was a new range that never got completed before they went into receivership.

Ducks, Pheasants and Stag! So awesome. I bought four of each and there was only one Stag plate but that's a large serving plate so that's all right.  I'm only going to take one pheasant and one duck plate to university with me, the rest I'm going to put away before leaving and then have it as my service when I have my own place.  My mim loved them, honestly I think she wants them for herself. So when we where in habitat I persuaded her to buy a cushion so she didn't feel left out. It might not match the current living room but it will match the next house, because we've already picked out the paint and furnishings. Sad I know. The cushion also matches our dogs...

I've also bought a sewing machine that I have no idea how to use... so expect some projects in the near future.

Belinda Stepford