03 August 2014

Swapping Produce and Making Jam

Saturday is my day off. I don't cook or wash or do any housework other than make our bed and the dishes, and the dishwasher takes care of those.

We usually spend the day as a family with whatever friends happen to be around. But a couple of weeks ago ( I know, I've been sitting on this post waiting for photos!) when I woke up on the Saturday morning I dressed and gently encouraged Wayne to do the same (as we wives do ;) ) and went to the Whitehorse Urban Harvest Swap.

I didn't have any produce to swap this time, but it was nice to have a look at what other keen gardeners are growing and swap tips. There was even a short talk on jam making. I love to see how other cooks make the things I do.

I'm never going to win a CWA prize for jam making. For a start I don't chop all the fruit to the same size (if it needs chopping I whizz it in the food processor). But I do make lovely jam that suits my family just fine.
I stick to the basic 1:1 fruit to sugar ratio with a squeeze of lemon juice in it. Bring it to the boil, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar then let it come to a rolling boil and keep it there until the mixture reaches gel point - usually about 20 minutes for the batches I do. Let it cool 5 minutes then ladle it into hot, sterilised jars. http://www.debtfreecashedupandlaughing.com.au/p/preserving-fruit-and-jams-is-great-way.html And it's done. Yummo, especially with hot scones and lashings of whipped cream.

It was nice to know that's how the speaker made her jam. It was also nice to know that sometimes, especially with apricot and strawberry jams, she also had slightly "runny" batches. Apricots and strawberries don't have as much natural pectin in them as other fruits.

Pectin is the stuff that occurs naturally in fruit; it is the stuff that makes your jam thick and helps it to set. Sometimes when fruits are low in pectin, like apricots and strawberries, you need to add it if you want a thicker, firmer set jam.

You can make pectin yourself from apple peels and cores. I found it a tedious process and then forgot to use it. You can also buy it in the form of Jamsetta which is found in your supermarket.

I don’t bother; if our jam is a little runnier that's OK, it's homemade and good, much better than store-bought and if it is really runny then I just call it sauce and we enjoy it with ice cream or sponge pudding.

Hannah's Raspberry Jam
This is Hannah's recipe for raspberry jam. It's the one she learned to make in Year 7 for a school open day, where she was helping Mrs. Allan in the Home Ec room demonstrating what the kids were learning to cook (did you know that jam making is actually a Year 12 Home Ec topic?). This is the recipe she makes for her Granddad to have on his toast when he comes to visit and she always makes enough for him to take home a jar or two.

500g frozen raspberries
2 cups white sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

Place frozen berries, sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Stir, over a low heat until berries have thawed and sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to medium and continue to stir until jam boils.  Continue cooking jam, stirring continuously and at boiling point until setting point is reached - about 15 minutes. Stir continuously to avoid burning and sticking. Once jam is ready, allow to cool a little before placing hot jam in sterilized jars and sealing.

Do you make jam? Do you have any jam making tips to share?

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