I believe I may have made a promise to share a jam recipe with you at the end of my Victoria Sandwich recipe. You're in luck; it's a promise I am going to keep.
Making jam is the type of cooking that used to make me feel like an elderly lady, the sort who has been married for a hundred and two years and counting, is a fully paid up member of the W.I. and embroiders her own lace handkerchiefs in the spare moments she finds throughout the day.
I won't lie; it's a feeling I rather like. Ladies like that keep a house how it should be kept, and having homemade preserves in the cupboard makes me forget that the garden needs weeding, the shirts ironing and clingfilm replacing. And that I haven't the foggiest idea how to embroider lace hankies.
I suppose I have the rest of my life to learn, but then that would perhaps jeopardise my future dream of becoming a distinguished, mildly lined (as in barely-there wrinkles) but fully grey, silk jacket wearing sybarite, the sort of immaculately groomed old chap who drinks pink gins on Thursday afternoons and offers pre-dinner callers glasses of the finest single malts and invitations to stay for 'supper'.
It's a nice dream, isn't it?
I don't really know how I got here from simply having mentioned jam. Let's get back to the point.
Jam is easy. I make it whenever I have a nice selection of empty jars, and I happen to think that this batch - made just before Christmas last year after a freezer raid produced a bag of raspberries and some forgotten about Alphonso mango purée (I am going to do more Alphonso mango recipes when they come into season this year, I think they are my favourite fruit) - is my best yet.
However, I need to make a disclosure for our mutual benefit: I used a pectin product. In the past, I considered this to be cheating - and I hate cheats - but have changed my mind. The thing is, I've actually had (read: survived) the unpleasant experience of making marmalade that didn't set properly before and after all the effort involved I was really angry about it. Pectin powders, syrups or even enriched sugars take away all the guess work, and turn jam making into a snap.
They also mean you can use less sugar. I actually used this, which I picked up in Italy, but any supermarket will have comparable products, such as Certo. Just read the label and adjust the method if necessary; most will be the same.
I'd actually love to hear how many of you make your own preserves and what your favourites are, so do please leave a comment here or on Facebook. Tell me if this post inspires you to try your hand at 'putting up', or if you too have lived through failure. Come on people: let's make this a jam throw down!
I'd also like to draw further attention to the fact that SAVEUR are hosting their Third Annual Blog Awards; I'd love a nomination in either Best Cooking Blog, Best Cooking & Desserts Blog or Best Food Humour Blog.
Yes; I am still that shameless...
The jam, the jam! You came for the jam...
Raspberry and Alphonso Mango Jam
You will need:
1kg raspberries and Alphonso mango, in the proportion you choose (I went 50/50, but as they* say, 'that's my prerogative')
500g caster sugar
1 sachet of Fruttapec, or pectin product of your choice
- Mix all the ingredients in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan. Allow to sit for as long as it takes to complete stage 2.
- Get your jam jars - I made 4 standard sized ones (that's 380ml capacity, fact fans) from this amount - and wash them in hot soapy water. Rinse well, place on a baking sheet (standing right side up) and dry off in a cool-ish oven, around 80-100°C is fine. Leave them in there to keep warm for now. Wash the lids too, and boil them in a saucepan of water for 10 minutes. You now have sterilised jars and lids; place the (drained!) lids in a clean bowl until ready to use.
- Now start the jam. Bring slowly to the boil and stir constantly to ensure the sugar is all dissolved thoroughly. If you want chunky jam, try not to crush the fruit too much.
- Once at a full boil, stop stirring and boil for a full 5 minutes. Then pour into your heated jars and apply the lids. Quickly invert the jars for a few seconds, then stand the right way up. The jam will set once it cools completely.