with scones & organic crème fraîche
If I didn’t expect the first attempt at jam making to set properly I really didn’t hold out much luck with this one. Especially as the fruit used were ripe. Which is something I forgot to elaborate on within my previous post. Apparently, if the fruit are still firm to the touch and/or not completely ripe the acidity will help the pectin to set – or something like that! Hmm, what can I blame this lack of explanation and understanding on? Lack of sleep? The heat we’re experiencing here right now? Oh, alright then. I just don’t understand the alchemical reaction that happens when and with and how. Excepting that it works. And I know I’m showing off with the lead-in photo. Seriously! The preserve spoon is upside down! Oh, try and hold me back from my own show…
If anything this was a different set. Besides taking longer to cook as it reduced it was even more noticeable that there was a certain amount of caramelisation going on, hence the colour. Which seemed to be inevitable with using so little sugar. And I’m guessing I could’ve done with less cooking time, about five minutes or so less, as the test I did seemed to be fine. I just don’t have the necessary experience – yet – within jam making to be able to determine for certain that a particular test is the right time to take the jam off heat. Having said that this works. Not only in texture but also in flavour. Okay, bigger and bolder. Whereas the previous jam is sweetly delicate and sophisticated this one is in your face. Not exactly a Chavette with their finger wagging and their 9ct gold-plate jewellery rattling kind-of-bling-sensation sort of thing. It just screams breakfast. And coupled with my scones smothered in organic crème fraîche these were undoubtedly the best scones I’ve ever had. Then again, I am bound to be biased.
- Here are two links for sites that I read before making jam for the first time. Both are well written and informative: 10 Tips for Jam, Jelly and Marmalade Making & Jam Session.
- My advice is to wear long clothing, as in a long sleeved top and trousers. When the jam is boiling it can and will spark and spit. Have to hand clean t-towels and or an oven mitt/glove and cover your hands if anywhere near the jam as jam making is a hot process and can scald. As for having kids and pets in the kitchen at the same time I would strongly advise against it.
- The only piece of equipment I’ve since bought for jam making is a 45cm or 18 in wooden spoon. That way there’s far less chance of the jam spluttering and burning my hand.
- It seems that it’s best to cut out all blemishes and any parts of the fruit that have signs of damage, discarding those.
- Add water sparingly to the prepared fruit in the saucepan initially, as extra water can always be added if necessary.
- Cover pan with a lid as this will help the fruit to release their juices. It’ll take about 10 – 15 minutes to do this, according to the fruit used.
- Only start heating the fruit at a lowish temperature. I used electric No 2 (out of 6).
- Add lemon juice through a sieve and stir through before adding sugar. Once the sugar has been added and stirred through is the time to taste for any extra needed sugar. If spices have been used then taste for any needed extra spices at this stage as well. At no point taste jam whilst cooking it during the boiling stage!
- Jam will darken considerably during the boiling stage. I’ve noticed that during this stage the sound of the jam will be of a vigorous boil, then suddenly it’ll go quieter. When this happens stir through, often. When jam starts to thicken is when it really needs to be stirred continuously – not with any force, just stir through slowly and gently as this will help to prevent any scorching. Do not leave the jam boiling at any stage! Take off heat and set on a cold plate, as in electric plate. Doing this and putting it back on heat doesn’t seem to make any difference to the end result.
- Put oven on to heat the jam jars. I set my oven to 180°C (356°F), and once it reached this temperature I simply switched the oven off and kept the door closed until the settling stage (see below).
- During the boiling stage place a clean saucer in the fridge.
- Do take the jam off heat and test when it looks like it’s thickening enough. Test by adding a small spoonful to the cold saucer. If it crinkles (allowing enough time for the jam to cool slightly) when pushed with your finger it’s beginning to set. Do place it in the fridge for 5 minutes and push it again. If it’s still too runny put the jam back on heat and continue to boil for another 5 minutes before testing again. At this point stir jam continuously.
- The jam, when the setting point wanted has been reached, needs to settle for about 10 minutes off heat before pouring it into the jars, that need to be hot. Having said that the jars shouldn’t be boiling hot so make sure the oven door is open wide, after taking the jam off heat, to allow the jars to cool slightly. Once jam has been bottled the lids should be put on immediately. And tighten lids again when jam has started to cool down.
Yield: about 500g (17.64 oz) or 1½ jars
- 1½ x medium sized ripe lemons, juiced through a sieve
- 480g (16.93 oz) x Blanquilla (sweet) pears (prepared weight), washed, quartered, cored and chopped with all blemishes and any damaged parts of the fruit cut out and discarded (skins kept on for this variety of pear) – place them into the lemon juice as they’re prepared
- 160g (5.64 oz) x Jonagold apples (prepared weight), washed, quartered, cored and chopped - place them into the lemon juice as they’re prepared
- up to 10g (0.35 oz) x finely grated fresh ginger, use about half the amount to begin with and add more (before the boiling stage) to personal taste
- 320g (11.29 oz) x granulated sugar
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- Put the prepared fruit, ginger and the lemon juice into a large saucepan with a lid on electric heat No 2 out of 6 initially to sweat or to help the fruit to release their juices. This should take about 10 – 15 minutes, depending on how big the chunks are. The fruit by this stage should be soft enough to eat, especially if firm or slightly unripe fruit have been used. Taste at this stage for any needed extra ginger.
- Up the heat to No 4 and add the sugar. Stir thoroughly to combine. Taste at this point, allowing the mixture to cool slightly, for any needed extra sugar.
- Bring mixture to a boil, stirring gently and occasionally at this stage. Once boiling stir much more frequently. It’s possible to detect differences in how the jam is bubbling at this stage. As it reduces gradually the vigorous bubbling sounds will suddenly diminish. That’s when it needs a gentle stir. And continue to do that for the remainder of the jam making. If necessary take off heat. Otherwise do not leave unattended at any time. And remember that boiling sugar is extremely hot so use t-towels to hold the saucepan, protecting that hand, and use a wooden spoon to stir with a long handle – the longer the better! As the jam can and will spit and splutter. Better to be safe when making jam as it will scald.
- Place a clean saucer in the fridge.
- Put oven on to 180°C or 356°F (which will take about 10 minutes) and place clean glass jars upside down in the oven to sterilise them. Once oven temperature has reached that mark switch it off but leave the jars inside with the door still closed.
- To bring the jam to a boil took around 10 minutes. Then the jam was boiled, on the same heat and stirring often, for 30 minutes before I did the first test. Take jam off heat and carefully add a dessertspoonful to the cold saucer. Allow a couple of minutes for the jam to cool before pushing a finger into the jam. If it starts to crinkle it’s beginning to set. If in doubt place the saucer back in the fridge for 5 minutes and check again. I then continued to boil the jam for a further 10 minutes before testing again. I also mashed the fruit lightly with a potato masher as the chunks were still quite large by this stage. The jam was then boiled for a further 5 minutes before taking off heat for the last time. In hindsight I should’ve taken it off heat without boiling for a further 5.
- If there is a lot of scum rising to the surface at any time do skim that off and discard. So far, with both jams, this hasn’t happened.
- When setting point has been reached take jam off heat and allow to settle for 10 minutes. At this point open the oven door and allow the jam jars to cool sufficiently, as they should still be hot but not overly so. When ready to pour the jam into the jars (that do need to be hot as otherwise they will crack) either ladle or spoon the jam in. With this particular jam it poured quite nicely as there were very few chunks left. Don’t rush this stage as there shouldn’t be any air bubbles. Pour some, tap the jar and pour in more. I didn’t leave much of a gap in mine, pouring jam up to the curve that leads to the grooves that hold the lid in place. Once happy with the jam in the jars place the lids on securely, tightening them again when the jam has cooled slightly.
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