I think the reoccurring theme with my cooking tends to be ambition. As I am not one to go against the grain, this bank holiday weekend I planned a roast, two loaves of bread, cake, pancakes, pea soup and Jam.
And for once I actually achieved it all! (Although I think it was more to do with the extra Bank Holiday Monday than with anything else)…
The cooking went well, and I could take you through it all but quite frankly it’s a bit boring and we all know (well, if you’ve read the title) that the real star of the show was Jam.
- I love jam
- It contains a lovely amount of sugar and isn’t considered as unhealthy as cake i.e. you can have it for breakfast without anyone turning their nose up at you
- When you are eating From Scratch you have to make jam by season, as the whole point of jam is the fruit is at its best. So that equals no jam for 5 months (for all of you Paddington bears out there, yes I know I could have made marmalade but I’m not a fan…)
So I have led a jam-free existence since the turn of the year, like being marooned on an island of breakfast blandness….
However the sunshine rushed to my rescue and summer has officially started. So this Sunday morning I went to the farmers market and bought 3 punnets of fresh English strawberries – which were delicious.
I would loved to have produced the jam from start to finish (making it from surplus fruit picked from my garden) but alas central London and my flat offers no secret strawberry garden, so the farmers market had to suffice.
As a little aside on summer food…
It’s worth going to a farmers market for your fruit and veg, it all looks so inviting and tastes exquisite. On top of this it’s a lovely leisurely Sunday morning activity. I had great fun going around and looking at the fruit, deciding which looked best and smelt the nicest – it was a real revelation, not the usual ‘pick the least bruised looking packet from the shelf’ exercise. It really makes you feel like you really are choosing your own food.
But back to my Jammy Sunday- well it was more my Jammy Monday. But its best started the night before so the sugar can absorb.
So here goes – my first batch of Jam …
Strawberry Jam– based on Delia (Bob Marley’s Jammin’ as optional background music)
1.5 pounds sugar
juice of one lemon
a bit of butter
- Clean the strawberries (make sure you dry them properly as wet strawberries are going to break up more when you actually get around to the jamming)
- Lightly grease the bottom of your pan with a small bit of butter
- Hull the strawberries, then place them whole into a large pan. To help the sugar absorb start sprinkling it in alternately between each layer of strawberries. So it goes strawberries, sugar, strawberries then sugar.
- Then put the lid on and leave over night
- The next day if there is still noticeable clumps of unabsorbed sugar give the pan a bit of a swirl (or a very very light stir- you don’t want to damage the fruit). If this is case leave it for another 10/ 15mins to help the absorption process
- First place a plate in the freezer, you will need this to test the set latter. Then heat the pan on a low heat until all of the sugar has dissolved.
- When the sugar has absorbed, add the lemon juice and turn the heat up. Once the mixture is properly bubbling set the timer for 8 mins
- Once the 8mins is reached take the pan off the heat, and place a small teaspoon on the plate. Leave it to cool then push the jam, if it forms a skin then its set, if not put it back on the heat for another 3-4 mins and then test again. Keep doing this until I has set. (Mine took at least 4 reheats before it set, so you may have to be patient. Just make sure you put the plate back in the freezer in between!)
- Once you have a set take it of the heat, and put a small lump of butter in the jam and swirl it around- this will remove the scum from the top of the jam. Then leave on the side for about 15mins.
- In the meantime you can wash and sterilise you jars, by placing them in a warm oven for about 5 mins
- After the jam has sat for a bit, pour it into your jars (this made 2 regular size jars) and put the lid on. Leave them to cool before you add a label as it will not stick properly if the jar is still hot
- Then enjoy with some From Scratch bread and butter and marvel at how wonderful life can be! 🙂
And that’s it in a nutshell, surprisingly simple and sooooo satisfying. I can’t wait to make some more. Then when more fruits come into season bring on apricot, blackcurrant, raspberry…. You name it… I’ll Jam it. 🙂