Monday, September 28, 2009


So, critical work mass meant I stopped writing blog, because I didn't have time or energy. Finally the work poop was over (wahoo!! resubmission dance) almost a week ago exactly and then I was too busy having fun. Now I'm supposed to be working again, so procrastination ahoy!

First up jam. Having read the preserves handbook Dan and I ventured into the world of jam with a straight up blackberry jam using the glut of fruit from the garden. I'm trying to keep these first jams simple, a single kind of fruit and sugar, while I get my bearings on what the hell actually happens during this process.

Dan and Ali's 1st Blackberry Jam, September 2009

Turned out pretty well. Very firm set, I think because all the sugar I used was the Silver Spoon Jam Sugar with pectin in. Next time I would substitute some of it for regular sugar, or use cooking apples for pectin as I've seen recommended. Recipe (if you can call it that!):

  • 800g blackberries

  • 1kg Silver Spoon Jam Sugar (with pectin - not the preserving sugar, which doesn't have pectin in, but IS apparently the optimal grain size for dissolving)

  • knob of butter

  • about 5 clean sterile jars

Following the success of blackberry jam, we moved on to damson jam. Our friend Laura very kindly brought back a heap (1.5kg to be precise) of damsons from her family home in the english country side. Apparently she was as excited about the jam making as I was, so we set to work enthusiastically on Saturday afternoon for batch number two. Several more lessons were learnt with batch 2 (quite glad I opted for simple jams to start with!). Firstly, my current afore mentioned bible of jam making said damsons were high in pectin and acid and so I decided to go for regular sugar rather than the pectin added stuff. However, due to afore mentioned work poop I was forced to freeze the fruit because I didn't have time to deal with them on the hour of their arrival and Laura thought they might be on the turn. I can't remember where I read this (probably in the Preserves handbook), but apparently freezing damages the pectin levels in the fruit and I didn't compensate for this. To cut a long story short the damson jam is very runny. Delicious, but runny. It looks a bit like the jam in Wallace and Gromit. Anyway, recipe:

  • 1.5kg of damsons

  • 1.25kg granulated sugar

  • 400ml of water

  • knob of butter

  • about 8 clean sterile jars

This was based roughly on the plum recipe in that same book on the grounds that it was stone fruit. Conscious that we needed to soften the skins we cooked over a lowish heat while we stirred and tried to pick out the stones floating to the top. Error! This took forever, and then once we'd decided they were cooked enough and started stirring vigorously as we added sugar all the ones we'd missed came up. Next time - cook, add sugar, stir like a maniac, then the stones float neatly to the top without any fiddle. Dan came in to help with the pouring into jars (because he can actually lift a pan of jam and doesn't possess my unique talents for knocking things over). I agree with The Cottage Smallholder on this point too - the jam funnel with the kit is a must!

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