Everyone knows of marmalade and jams, and many love a nice fruit jam on toast or a soft bread. You might also enjoy a spoon of jam as a mix-in with natural yoghurt, ice cream or muesli, or as a simple topping to cakes and puddings.
Making your own jam is very easy, quick and rewarding. The following base recipe works with most soft fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, peaches, figs or prunes. Juice from fruit like quinces, gooseberries or apples makes jelly but works the same:
1 kg of cleaned fruit makes for 6..8 jars of jam (depending on the jars’ size, obviously).
Wash, clean, remove stalks and odd bits, remove core, seeds or stones. Cut into suitably sized pieces if necessary. Now weigh the fruit, and add the same amount of jam sugar in weight.
Stir until the sugar dissolves and set aside for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, find some empty jam jars (we collect empty mustard or gherkin jars through the year) with matching lids. Make sure that the jars and lids are very clean, and finally rinse with very hot water.
Now put the fruit-and-sugar mix slowly to the boil, stirring continuously. Once the mix reached a gentle bubble, keep at the gentle bubble and keep stirring for another 8..10 minutes. Then fill the jars, leaving about a finger’s width of air on top, and immediately screw the lid on tightly.
Do not move the jars until they have cooled down. The trapped air will contract and seal the jar by sucking in the lid tightly. This will easily keep for a year (if jar and lid were clean), and easily beats any commercial jam.
No WI membership required!
I’d say the only common mistake is to make too much. Start with small batches which don’t completely mess up your kitchen and your day. Also remember that you want to make only as much as you can eat within a year (or thrust on friends and neighbours for gifts).
Right now, you can harvest fruit in your own garden or buy locally grown fruit inexpensively, or you can foraging in the open spaces of Hanwell and surroundings for wild apples, pears, prunes, plums and greengages, raspberries or blackberries.
(When foraging, please avoid invading private land or breaking any trees, laws or rules of common sense and consideration.)