I’ve already told you about jam. How my whole family used to go to a pick-your-own farm, and gather bucket loads of strawberries and raspberries, and go back to my grandma’s house, where she and my mum would make jam. I’d sit on her kitchen floor and listen to them potter around and chat, and play with my little brother, while the aromas filled the house.
The aroma of cooking jam. Maybe it’s just because it’s such a fond memory, but I really think that it’s up there with baking bread and roasting chicken. And sheets hanging out on a washing line. And the sea. And forest smell. And peonies. It might not even be something that means anything to anybody else in my family. In fact it’s more than likely that it imprinted in my brain at just the right time, and it’s rolled up into this massive ball that is filed in the Bekcyclopedia under ‘Happy memories’. It’s a really big file. I must be very lucky.
I picked up a couple of trays of strawberries, blackberries and boysenberries at the farmers market. Which was kind of a silly thing to do because I hardly eat jam anymore. Luckily I live with a man who is more like a foraging hedgehog than a human being. If there’s something sweet and delicious in the house he will sniff it out and find ways to eat it. Which is a bonus when you have an excess of jam– because what are foraging hedgehogs good for if not to munch their way through copious amounts of jam. It is NOT a bonus when you buy a lot of chocolate because you plan on making a chocolate mousse, and then open the drawer two days later to find it all gone, with a wrapper there to taunt you. I tell ya, it’s lucky he’s cute…
2 day berry jam
Note. This isn’t what I’d consider to be ‘health’ food in any shape or form. It’s seasonal, it’s local, it uses more sugar per jar than I’d like to consume in a month.
Another note: I use the low-sugar pectin. It comes with a little packed of calcium-somethingorother that you have to mix with water, which then activates the pectin. If you use regular, I’d follow the quantities on the pectin packet, not these ones.
Berry jam: 2 day method. Makes 5-6 cups, usually.
6 cups strawberries (or blackberries, or boysenberries)
3 cups sugar (gasp!)
3 tsp pectin
3 tsp calcium water
juice of 1/2 lemon
Cut the stems off the strawberries, cut them into quarters. Cover with sugar in a saucepan, mix together, cover with saran wrap or a plate, and leave still. Before you go to bed, put them in the fridge.
Day 2 AM:
The next morning, bring the contents of the saucepan to a boil, remove from heat, and allow to cool. With a potato masher, smash up some of the strawberries into smaller pieces, if you so wish– I happen to be a chunky jam girl, so I don’t bother.
Day 2 PM:
That evening*, get a big pot of water boiling (for the water bath). While this is going, you can pop in the jar lids, to loosen the sealing wax (and also to sterilise them). Pull out the lids before the water boils.
Turn the oven on FULL heat, and put in the jars you’ll be using. This both sterilises them, and makes them hot so you can pour the hot jam in directly.
Sprinkle the pectin and lemon juice into the (cold) jam mixture. Slowly bring the jam back to a boil, and simmer for 1 minute.
Remove from heat. Pull the jars out the oven with tongs, and pour in the jam. Everything will be hot. Please be careful. Screw on the lids, and place them in the water bath, carefully. Bring the water bath back to a boil, and boil for ten minutes.
Remove the jars from the water. They should, over the next ten minutes or so, all start popping, as the vacum lids seal. If a jar doesn’t pop, then try it with a different lid (processing in the water bath again). If it STILL doesn’t work, then pop it in the fridge and eat that one first.
*Or the next morning– the timing isn’t THAT big a deal. I often do it so that the last steps can be completed in the early morning, as I looove cooking in the early morning.