from one generation to the next
At the end of the summer holiday season there’s a random assortment of leftover packaged food in my beach house kitchen. Family and friends visit loaded up with good things, (none of us like to compromise when it comes to food) then they leave empty handed, generously contributing whatever’s leftover to the communal kitchen stocks.
This has been a clean up, clear out, consolidate weekend. They say things come in threes. Amongst the ephemera in the fridge were three open jars of mayonnaise, three open tubes of wasabi, three open jars of green tomato pickles (all homemade to my recipe by different people) and three open bags of frozen raspberries.
I made wasabi mayonnaise to create an extra choice in the mayo department. Pickle is pickle, so I’ll roast a leg of lamb to be eaten as cold cuts and that will disappear reasonably quickly. With the frozen raspberries I made a small batch of jam. I have wonderful childhood memories of my paternal Grandma’s “pippy jam”, not too sweet, spread on buttered brown bread. I still adore that robust berry flavour.
I use a simple formula when making any jam. Weigh the fruit, then calculate the amount of sugar you need. I use 3/4 of the weight of the fruit. Many people advocate equal weights but I find jam made in those proportions too sweet. Add less sugar and your jam is likely to go mouldy on the surface. I also add the juice of a lemon to punch up the pectin level which helps the jam set quickly.
Jam should be cooked over a low heat and in small batches to maintain the colour and fruitiness. You do not want the sugar to caramelize. I always put a simmer pad under the jam pot to prevent the base of the pan burning.
Once the jam begins to thicken, it’s time to start testing it to see if it gels. I put a small dob on a saucer, put it into the fridge for a minute or two then remove it and drag a finger through the cool jam. If the jam doesn’t run back into the finger track then it is ready to put into sterilized jars, seal and store.
As a general guide, a medium sized jar of jam will be roughly 250g of uncooked fruit. I always sterilize more jars than I calculate I’ll need because evaporation and gelling time varies according to the ripeness and variety of fruit. It’s much easier to return clean jars into storage than have to sterilize a second batch.
I save any screw top jar that gets emptied in my kitchen. I wash the jar and lid in the dishwasher to remove any odour of the food it originally contained. To prepare the jars for reuse I wash them again in warm soapy water, soak off the old labels, then put the jars only on a tray in a preheated 120C oven for 30 minutes.
Because of plastic lids, plastic seals and plastic inner coatings on the metal lids, I boil them in small saucepan of water for 5 minutes before sealing the hot jars of jam. As the jam cools, a vacuum is created, guaranteeing longevity, up to 2 years.
as a guide:
600g raspberries, fresh or frozen
450g white sugar
Juice of a medium lemon
Make the jam according to the instructions above.