Well, here we are in 2021 and, with any luck, you are starting to be inundated with the produce you planted way back when.
Our grandmas of old (often before the coming of refrigerators) knew in order to have the use of vegetables and fruit through the non-productive months, they needed to find some way of preserving them.
Many of them had a Fowler's Vacola preserving set and bottled fruit for later use. Another good way was to make homemade jams and chutneys.
Of course, these days people freeze much of their harvest as well.
I like experimenting, making jam that is not easily obtainable commercially. Strawberry is probably the most difficult as it has very little pectin, so is more tricky to set.
You can use commercial pectin but I only like to use natural ingredients. If the strawberry doesn't set it makes a good sauce, so all is not lost.
The easiest jam for beginners is raspberry because it sets quickly, but I have also made cumquat, mandarin with passionfruit and also grape and passionfruit recently. Passionfruit adds a little extra flavour, plus the seeds make the jam look interesting.
The taste varies depending on the proportions but as all fruits seem to taste good together, it doesn't matter much.
Maureen's simple jam recipe
This is my own recipe, bearing in mind that I always try to find an easy way to do things. The key is to use half fruit and half sugar - nothing else.
I usually do my jam in batches, using 1.5kg of fruit and the same amount of sugar. You can use several fruits mixed together.
With fruit that has very little pectin (like strawberries), add the juice and grated rind of one or two lemons to help with setting. This jam is long-lasting and very tasty.
- 1.5kg chopped fruit
- 1.5kg sugar
- Remove thick skin of fruit (if desired thin skin can stay).
- Wash and cut fruit into small pieces, removing unwanted seeds.
- Measure peeled fruit and sugar (check quantities are equal).
- Add chopped fruit and sugar to a large saucepan on a low heat. Slowly heat up, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking.
- Meanwhile, put a saucer in the freezer to cool down.
- Bring the fruit and sugar mixture to the boil, then put a timer on for 15 mins. Keep stirring, keeping the mixture at a low bubble.
- After 15 mins test the jam by putting a small amount on the cold saucer. It will take a minute or so to cool. If it looks and feels like jam, it is done. If not, stir on a low heat until it sets on the saucer.
- Bottle in warm sterilised jars (I sterilise freshly in the dishwasher).