On a rare sunny day last week my sister and I partook in a very british tradition-fruit picking. The wet misery that has been this summer has luckily not put a dampener on this years crop and as we took to the field we found strawberries, raspberries, red currants and many other fruits in abundance. The beauty of PYO farms is not only the sneaky eating of the fruit on your way round the fields but the quality of the produce at such cheap prices. We walked away with 4kg of strawberries, 1kg raspberries, 1kg red currants, 2kg blackcurrants and 2kg of rhubarb for less than ten pounds. So what better way to use such large quantities of fruit than making lots of jam (and a rhubarb crumble of course).
So the jamboree began, and what better book to get than one endorsed by the ever-glamorous Nigella Lawson. Beryl Wood’s ‘Let’s Preserve It’ is probably not the best for a novice, it’s packed with recipe’s which provide basic information on the ingredients but little information regarding the method or what to look for during the cooking process. However, it is excellent as it has recipes including pretty much every fruit under the sun. We decided upon a blackcurrant jam, strawberry jam, strawberry and rhubarb jam and a raspberry and redcurrant jam.
The blackcurrant jam started off very well, but as jam novices weren’t too sure what we were looking for.We left it to cook for too long, resulting in the jam being rock hard once cooled, alas, as the cliché goes, you learn from your mistakes. Next batch we embarked upon was the redcurrant and raspberry. Following the tar-like blackcurrant mess we kept a close eye on this batch, not letting it cook to a jam consistency knowing that as it cooled it would thicken up, and modesty aside, we nailed it.
The jam was a perfect consistency. We sterilised our jars and using a jam funnel (an essential piece of equipment) filled our jars, placed wax disc on top and sealed the lids.Riding our success and no doubt on a sugary-jam high we whipped up the next few batches of strawberry and strawberry and rhubarb jam.
Momma Moran picked up some cute labels and jam lid covers from Cath Kidston to add to the country bumpkin feel of the whole event, however, a lot of the jam spent little time in the jars as it was devoured straight away.
A week or so later, I made a batch of lemon and lime marmalade, a lot more time consuming than jam but well worth it. I couldn’t find a recipe I liked so I invented my own, with surprising success. I juiced 6 limes and 6 lemons, finely chopped the peel and put them in a jam saucepan with 3 pints of water and the juice of the fruit. The seeds and pith removed from the fruit was placed in some Muslin cloth and left to soak over night in the juice mixture.The next day I added 1.35kg of castor sugar and 200ml of gin and boiled the mixture for around 40 mins, then left to cool and thicken.Twin crocheted some covers for the jam lids out of yellow and green wool (post graduation she has had a lot of time on her hands!) which are very cute. The mixture made about 1.5-2 litres of jam. I am loving all forms of preserves right now and definitely intend to make some chutney soon!