Lockdown Larder: Jams

Many moons ago, I picked up a book from Lakeland, entitled “Preserves”, with every intention of exploring the world of jam making.  I even bought a number of small jam jars for this purpose.  I had a vision of becoming a jam making domestic goddess, who would present lovely jars of homemade jam to family and friends for Christmas and other key holidays.  Like with so many things, I didn’t make the time  to make the jam as intended.  My book sat on the shelf, collecting dust while my jam jars remained forgotten in a box somewhere.

While lockdown has been difficult for a number of reasons, it has also given me the time to do things which I have not made the time for in the past.  While having time has helped me get into jam making, I have to given credit to Lynwood & Co in this regard too.  With the generous fruit boxes, I have been purchasing from Lynwood & Co on a one to two week basis, I have had an abundance of fruit to use in my baking and jam making.  To be honest, what started as a way of using up excess fruit has now become a bit of a passion on mine.  I can’t say I have perfected the art of jam making, but I am learning as I go.  I have learnt that relying on my thermometer to get to 105 degrees Celsius is not necessarily reliable to get setting point and that the frozen plate/fridge test is possibly better for checking this.

So far, I have made the following jams:

  • Apple and Pear
  • Grape Jelly (I have not included the recipe here, as the end result was a little on the thin side and as I am not sure whether this is down to the recipe or my jam-making skills, I felt that it was best not to included the recipe here), as if you ar
  • Rhubarb and Ginger
  • Marmalade
  • Pear and Ginger

I should mention, that a couple of essential purchases made during lockdown, have included a six-pack of Kilner jars (all currently in use) and some food grade muslin.  Maybe, I shouldn’t have said essential as I could have made do with empty jam jars and the ones I bought from Lakeland way back when (in retrospect, a little on the small side for general jam making – okay for a small gift) and you can use a clean drying up cloth instead of muslin, but all I can say is that these purchases have been very helpful indeed.

Now, without further ado, let me share the recipes that I have used with you are reading this  post, this is most probably what you are here for.

Apple and Pear (Tales from a Well-Stocked Larder)

Ingredients

  • 1 kg of prepared pears and apples (peel, core, then dice pears and grate apples)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Small amounts of water
  • 1 kg of sugar

Method

  • Simmer pears, apples and lemon juice until soft (about 30 min).  Add water if it becomes too dry.
  • Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
  • Simmer until setting point is reached (approximately 20 – 30 minutes of 105 degrees Celsius)
  • Transfer to sterilised jars, ensuring any chunks of fruit are well-distributed.  Seal, label and store.
  • The jam lasts approximately one year in sealed sterilised containers.
  • Transfer to the fridge once opened.

Marmalade (Source: Nigel Slater in The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • 12 Seville oranges ( I used regular oranges, which made a very flavoursome marmalade)
  • 2 lemons
  • 1.25kg unrefined golden granulated sugar

Method

  • Using a small, particularly sharp kitchen knife, score four lines down each fruit from top to bottom, as if you were cutting the fruit into quarters. Let the knife cut through the peel but without piercing the fruit.
  • Cut each quarter of peel into fine shreds (or thicker slices if you like a chunkier texture). Squeeze each of the peeled oranges and lemons into a jug, removing and reserving all the pulp and pips.
  • Make the juice up to 4 litres with cold water, pouring it into the bowl with the shredded peel. You may need more than one bowl here.  Tie the reserved pith, squeezed-out orange and lemon pulp and the pips in muslin bag and push into the peel and juice.  Set aside in a cold place and leave overnight.
  • The next day, tip the juice and shredded peel into a large stainless steel or enamelled pan (or a preserving pan for those lucky enough to have one) and push the muslin bag down under the juice. Bring to the boil then lower the heat so that the liquid continues to simmer merrily. It is ready when the peel is totally soft and translucent. This can take anything from 40 minutes to a good hour-and-a-half, depending purely on how thick you have cut your peel.
  • Once the fruit is ready, lift out the muslin bag and leave it in a bowl until it is cool enough to handle. Add the sugar to the peel and juice and turn up the heat, bringing the marmalade to a rolling boil.  Squeeze every last bit of juice from the reserved muslin bag into the pan.  Skim off any froth that rises to the surface. (If you don’t your preserve will be cloudy.)  Leave at a fast boil for 15 minutes.  Remove a tablespoon of the preserve, put it on a plate, and pop it into the fridge for a few minutes.  If a thick skin forms on the surface of the refrigerated marmalade, then it is ready and you can switch the pan off.  If the tester is still liquid, then let the marmalade boil for longer.  Test every 10 to 15 minutes.  Some mixtures can take up to 50 minutes to reach setting consistency.
  • Ladle into the sterilised pots and seal immediately.

I made a half batch of the recipe and it yielded just over two Kilner Jars of marmalade. with a little to spare

Pear and Ginger Jam (Domestic Gothess)

Ingredients

  • 400g (prepared weight) peeled and cored pears chopped into small dice
  • 150 g (prepared weight) peeled and cored cooking apple very finely minced
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 100 ml water
  • 400g granulated sugar
  • 2 balls stem ginger finely chopped

Method

  • Place a couple of saucers into the freezer and sterilise your jars.
  • Place the pears, apples, lemon zest and juice, ginger and water into a deep, heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring up to a simmer and simmer gently for about 15 minutes, until the fruit is tender.
  • Stir in the sugar and stem ginger and heat gently until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  • Turn up the heat and cook at a rapid boil for about 10 minutes, or until it reaches 105 degrees Celsius; stir regularly to prevent it from catching on the bottom.
  • Remove from the heat and place a teaspoonful of the jam on one of the cold saucers; pop it in the fridge for a minute then push at it with a finger, if the surface of the jam wrinkles then it is ready; if not then return the pan to a rapid boil for another five minutes then remove from the heat and check again.
  • Allow the jam to cool for 5-10 minutes, then ladle it into hot sterilised jars, seal and allow to cool. Once opened keep refrigerated

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam (Source: BBC Good Food)

Ingredients

  • 1kg rhubarb, trimmed weight
  • 1kg jam sugar (which has added pectin)
  • Zest and juice 1 lemon
  • 50g stem or crystallised ginger, finely chopped
  • 4cm piece ginger, peeled

Method

  • Wash the rhubarb under cold running water and slice into 2cm pieces. Tip into a large ceramic or plastic bowl and add the jam sugar, lemon zest and juice, and chnd opped stem ginger. Finely grate the peeled ginger directly over the rhubarb.
  •   Stir the mixture thoroughly, cover loosely with cling film and leave to one side for about 2 hours to allow the sugar to dissolve into the rhubarb juices. You may need to stir the mixture occasionally to encourage this process along.
  • Pop a few saucers in the freezer. Scoop the fruit and all the sugary juices into a preserving pan and set over a medium heat.  Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved, and bring to the boil.  Continue to cook at a fairly swift pace until the rhubarb is really tender and the conserve has reached setting point – this should take about 10-15 mins.
  • To test for a set, drop ½ tsp of the jam onto a cold saucer, leave it for 30 secs, then gently push it with the tip of your finger. If the jam wrinkles the setting point has been reached. If not, continue to cook for a further couple of minutes and test again.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and leave to one side for 2-3 mins before pouring into sterilised jars. Seal immediately and label with the date once completely cold.

To sterilise jars, I heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius.  Wash the jars in warm soapy water and then rinse them thoroughly before placing them in heated oven for 15 minutes.  I then turn off the oven, but leave the jars in the oven until I need them.

I have enjoyed making jam so much during lockdown that if I ever got the opportunity to do so for a living (or part thereof), I would jump at the opportunity.

What next, you might ask.  Well, as we speak, I have the recipe for an overnight three-citrus processor marmalade open in from of me (from my “Preserve” book.  As soon as a Kilner jar becomes available, I will be making this.  Lets hope my grapefruits, lemons and oranges will still be okay by then.  Who am I kidding, the way we are devouring jam and marmalade on sourdough toast for breakfast, a Kilner jar will be free in a blink of an eye.

 Happy preserving!

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