I can’t believe we’ve reached J already. April seems to be flying by!
Boy, do I love jam. When I was little, my family used to make fun of me at the kitchen table for the speed with which I’d ask, “Please will you pass me the jam?”
(Or rather, “Pleez’ll-u-pars-e-th-jam?”)
So it should come as no surprise that I consider myself to be a bit of a jam connoisseur.
There is one absolute rule I have about jam and that’s this: it should only contain fruit, sugar & pectin or lemon juice. Anything else makes it inferior.
Ever looked at a jam label? Then you’ll know what I mean. I picked up a jar in Waitrose once to see, “may contain wheat”. I know, Waitrose of all places!
Confused? Read the following ingredients for a cheap jam:
Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Raspberries, Sugar, Gelling Agent: Pectin, Acid: Citric Acid, Acidity Regulator: Sodium Citrates.
Seriously! Who wants to eat that? And what a shame for those raspberries.
Jam oozing out of a layer cake (Mmmm!)
Actually, I’m not that fussy about ingredients as long as they’re gluten-free and taste good, but rest-assured, I could take the Pepsi challenge on any glucose-fructose syrup jam against homemade jam and win (and so could you).
So what’s the best jam recipe?
It’s this: take your favourite fruit (let’s assume that means peaches). You’ll need 800g chopped fruit, 800g granulated sugar & 2 lemons.
Put a small plate in the freezer (this will make sense later).
Turn your oven on low and put it roughly 2 lidless jam jars for every 400g of fruit.
Wash and dry the fruit, then stone and put in a food processor. (No, really.)
Blend until you’ve crushed the majority of the fruit.
Now tip the fruit into a large pan (we’re talking the size you’d make mulled wine or fudge in).
Add the same weight of caster sugar as you have of fruit.
For every 400g of fruit, add the juice of a large lemon (this acts in the same way as pectin – i.e. as a thickener).
Mix together and turn on the hob.
Bring to the boil and leave bubbling for 8 minutes.
Get the small plate out of the freezer (ha ha – you were wondering when this would come in!). Take a small teaspoon of mixture and drop it on the plate. Now push the mixture. Does it crinkle or is it still runny?
If it’s still runny, keep boiling the jam. 4 minutes will do and then repeat the cold plate test.
If it crinkles, it’s done and it’s time to turn the heat off.
Using oven gloves, remove the jam jars from the oven and put on a heatproof plate.
With a jam funnel (i.e. metal with a thick funnel and not one of the plastic ones you might use for cooler foods), pour the jam into each jam jar. Allow a small space at the top.
Immediately screw the lids tightly onto each jar and allow to cool.
Add labels to the cooled jam if you wish. Or just spoon immediately onto your desired accompaniment, preferably with family and friends so they can ooh and ah at your amazing expertise in the kitchen.
Do let me know how get on with your jam efforts by commenting below (pics welcome!).