Tag Archives: Jams

Last blueberries of the season? I’ll take 1kg please!

Fun fact: I arrived in Auckland two months today.  Part of me feels like it can’t possibly have been that long already – there are still plenty of things that I’m not sure how they work (I only cracked the bus system the other week) or where to find certain things.  But then part of me feels I’ve been here so much longer, probably because I’ve finally more or less got a routine going and am feeling more settled.  Part of my routine involves going to the farmers’ market on Saturday mornings.  There are several farmers’ markets across Auckland, and when I first arrived, I tried the one in the centre of town (and closest to me) a few times, but I was distinctly disappointed.  Plenty of food to eat on the spot but not much in the way of produce, which for me is the whole point of a farmers’ market.  A couple of weeks ago, I finally got around to trying the Parnell Farmer’s Market, which I’d heard was much better.  And indeed it was, although there didn’t seem to be much meat for sale.  There were plenty of fruit and vegetables though, including a whole blueberry stand.  I hadn’t really planned on buying any, but on being told that they were the very last blueberries of the season, I happily trotted off with 1kg of blueberries.

You might think that 1kg is a little excessive, especially since I hadn’t actually planned on buying any… but I had a very specific plan for these very-last-of-the-season blueberries.  I’m still struggling with the seasons being six months out of sync, so I know that come June and July when the Northern hemisphere (and many of the food blogs that I follow) will be full of summer berries, I’ll be really jealous, because it’ll be the middle of winter here.  But I can still have blueberries this winter, because I made blueberry jam.  Actually, if I’d been really smart, I’d have bought 2kg, used half for jam and frozen the other half for baking throughout winter.  Didn’t think of that at the time though…  Never mind.

I love home-made jam – it always makes me think of France.  Making jam has to be one of the easiest things in the world.  I know in my last post I said that tarts are super easy, but jam is even more straightforward.  It is literally just fruit and sugar.  And you only need 1 pot (granted, a big one), so it’s not a particularly space-intensive thing to make (which is excellent when you have a small kitchen without much counter space), and it also means minimal washing up (always a bonus).  Many jam recipes call for a 1:1 ratio of fruit to sugar, but I find that these jams often tend to be far too sweet, particularly for a fruit like blueberries which aren’t particularly bitter to start with.  None of my recipe books had a blueberry jam recipe, which surprised me a little, and the internet wasn’t terribly helpful either.  Is blueberry jam a really uncommon thing?  Why?  Do people just not like it?  So I asked my mum, and none of her recipe books were much help either.  Even the one specifically about jams.  We decided that I should go for 750g of jam sugar to 1kg of fruit and just see how it turned out.  Thankfully, it turned out rather well.  Terrific in fact.  There’s an intense blueberry flavour, it’s a beautiful colour, and it’s not too sweet.  Hurrah!  So now I can have blueberries in winter…

Blueberry jam

Makes about 3 x 375ml jars
Very loosely based on BBC Good Food (June 2011)

This jam is wonderful for breakfast, but would also be delicious on scones with afternoon tea.  To sterilise the jam jars, wash the jars and lids in hot, soapy water before placing on a baking tray and placing in an oven on low heat until fully dried (about 10 mins or so).  I tend to like my jam without too many whole berries in so I mashed them quite a bit at the end, but that’s entirely up to you.  You could probably reduce the jam sugar down to 700g (maybe even 650g), but will probably have to boil the jam a little longer.

Ingredients

1 kg blueberries
750g jam sugar
1 lemon

Directions

1.  Pop a few saucers in the freezer to be used later (I ended up using 2).

2.  Place the blueberries in a preserving pan or large pot (remember that the jam will increase in volume when bubbling away, so make sure the pot is large enough).  Stir in the sugar and place the pan over a low heat, stirring regularly (the sugar will slowly turn pink and liquify), and taking care that the jam does not boil.

3.  Once all the sugar has dissolved, stir in the juice from the lemon and turn up the heat.  Once a fast boil – 105°C on a preserving thermometer – has been reached, time the jam for 8 mins.  After 8 mins, place 1 tsp of jam onto one of the frozen saucers and place in the fridge (allow the jam to continue on fast boil in the meantime).  After 1 min in the fridge, push your finger through the jam on the saucer.  If the jam wrinkles (this may sound strange, but you’ll be able to tell exactly what I mean when it happens), then it is ready.  If not, allow the jam to continue on fast boil for a further 2 mins before testing again.  As soon as the jam is ready, remove the pan from the heat.

4.  Allow to cool for 20 mins, then skim away any scum from the top of the jam.  Using a potato masher, mash the jam as necessary (this depends entirely on your taste – I tend to mash it quite a bit, but you may find that you don’t want to mash it all).  Ladle the jam into sterilised jars (a jam funnel helps considerably).

Enjoy!

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Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods

Strawberry & Pimm’s jam

Last week was Graduation Week here in St Andrews (I graduated on Wednesday, which means that, for now at least, I’m suddenly no longer a student – my gosh, how did this happen?!), so things over the last two weeks have been rather on the hectic side.  There’s been a lot of running around, various half-hearted attempts at packing, meeting up with people for one last coffee/game of pool/drink/lunch, etc., a lot of celebrating and many goodbyes.  On top of all of that, my laptop is very rapidly nearing the end of its lifespan, resulting in a lot of frustration whenever I try and write anything up (if you’re familiar with the Blue Screen of Death or the Black Screen of Incomprehensible Scrolling Text, then you’ll know what I mean).  So my rather rambly point is that I’m afraid I’ve neglected my poor blog somewhat, resulting in a slight back-log of recipes, including this lovely jam that I made just over two weeks ago.

Now, I love home-made jam (who doesn’t?!) and it always reminds me of making jam during summer holidays at my French grand-parents house when I was younger using the fruit from their garden.  My French grandma had an ancient (to me) pair of kitchen scales that you had to balance out using weights and so on, and I thought that they were great fun to play with.  So actually, what really happened was that I played with the scales and generally got in the way and probably ate a fair proportion of the fruit, my mum did all the hard work of actually making the jam (stirring, pressing, etc.), my grandma sat at the table and probably told me off for getting in the way and mucking around and occasionally helping my mum, and my grandpa went off gallivanting in the garden.  The end product was jam though, and gosh was it good jam!  Unfortunately, we haven’t made jam since I was about 15 or 16, because my French grandparent’s house has been sold now, and we don’t have a garden in Edinburgh, nor do I have one in St Andrews.  Sad times.

My mum suggested that we make strawberry jam last summer, but I’m not really a huge fan of strawberry jam – I often find it a little too sweet and I’m not too keen on the big lumpy bits that you often get (picky?  Me?), so that didn’t end up happening.  However, we’ve had a lot of really tasty strawberries this year, and when I saw a recipe for strawberry & Pimm’s jam in BBC Good Food, I absolutely had to try it.  Now, I don’t know about you, but in my world (and most of St Andrews) it’s pretty much always Pimm’s o’clock.  Never mind that the recipe was still for strawberry jam, strawberry and Pimm’s is a fabulous combination, and it sounded delicious.  I’m also submitting this recipe to this month’s Simple and in Season blog event, even though I already used strawberries for the same event last month.  But they’re so delicious and still seasonal, so I’m not too bothered!

I won’t lie to you, I was a little bit nervous about making jam by myself – I’ve only ever been involved in making jam when there have been other people around who actually know what they’re doing.  But the recipe looked straightforward and detailed enough, there was no straining fruit through muslin or anything, and I even have a sugar/jam thermometer, so I took advantage of Tesco’s apparent failure to estimate the quantities of strawberries they would sell and snapped up a lot of very tasty strawberries at super-reduced prices.  Win!  The jam turned out to be really quite easy.  Yes, you do have to watch the temperature a bit, and I did think the jam was going to bubble over the top of the pot at one point (it didn’t), but there was nothing especially difficult to do.  Jam-making is as much fun and smells as wonderful as I remember!  And the jam turned out to be rather delicious – the Pimm’s comes as more of a subtle after-taste and also means that the jam isn’t too sweet at all, and I made sure to mash it up a bit at the end to avoid the lumpy bits that I don’t like.  If you’re not keen on having alcohol at breakfast time, this jam would go wonderfully on scones for afternoon tea.  Or served with Pimm’s.  Yummy…

Strawberry & Pimm’s jam

Makes just under 6 x 350g jars
Adapted from BBC Good Food (June 2011)

This is a soft-set jam, presumably mostly as a result of the added Pimm’s and gin.  It is wonderful for breakfast, but would also be delicious on scones with afternoon tea or served with a pitcher of Pimm’s.  To sterilise the jars, wash the jars and lids in hot, soapy water before placing on a baking tray and placing in an oven on low heat until fully dried (about 10 mins or so).  Apparently choosing just-ripe strawberries will help the jam set, though the ones I used were quite ripe and the jam worked absolutely fine.

Ingredients

1.5 kg strawberries
1 kg jam sugar
2 lemons
1 orange
4 tbsp Pimm’s No. 1 cup
1 tbsp gin

Directions

1.  Place a few saucers in the freezer to be used later (I ended up using 4 or 5).

2.  Hull and halve or quarter the strawberries, depending on how large they are.  Place them in a preserving pan or large pot (the jam will increase in volume when bubbling away, so make sure the strawberries only come half-way up the side of the pot or so).  Using a potato masher, give the strawberries a good mashing until quite juicy (if you like lumpy jam then don’t mash too much).  Stir in the sugar and place the pan over a low flame, stirring occasionally, and taking care that the jam does not boil.

3.  Once all the sugar has dissolved, stir in the juice from the lemons and orange and turn up the heat.  Once a fast boil – 105°C on a preserving thermometer – has been reached, time the jam for 10 mins.  After 10 mins, place 1 tsp of jam onto one of the frozen saucers and place in the fridge (allow the jam to continue on fast boil).  After 1 min in the fridge, push your finger through the jam on the saucer.  If the jam wrinkles (this may sound strange, but you’ll be able to tell exactly what I mean when it happens), then it is ready.  If not, allow the jam to continue on fast boil for a further 2 mins before testing again.  As soon as the jam is ready, remove the pan from the heat.

4.  Allow to cool for 30 mins, then skim away any scum from the top of the jam.  Mash the jam slightly more if necessary (this depends on your taste), before stirring in the Pimm’s and gin.  Ladle the jam into sterilised jars (a jam funnel helps considerably).

Enjoy!

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Filed under Recipes, Student Life, Sweet Foods