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Monday 12 July 2010


'Where've you been?'


I hear your taunts. I can only apologise. I had a week off last week, and even though I thought there would be countless opportunities to cook and blog, there just weren't.

I could, I suppose, have cooked something wonderful for the two friends that came to stay for a few days, and put the recipe up here. But we were too busy sunbathing at the beach during the day and talking and laughing at Nighty Night in the evenings for me to even think about slaving in the kitchen. I even went as far as to offer up Japanese curry rice from a packet as dinner. (Sorry Luce and Rish, and thank you for the pink Champagne. Next time, I'll cook properly).

I say we were too busy to think about slaving in the kitchen, and that is true. It isn't true though that we didn't spend any time in there at all. Oh no. We made jam. Quickly, and unexpectedly, at around ten in the evening, having been out all day picking fruit in The Gower.

That probably sounds like an act of complete madness, and I suppose that, actually, we did only decide to set out on a preserving marathon on a whim. Basically, when we realised that each one of us had picked a whole kilo of fruit: what were we going to do with it all?

In typical 'oh, let's just wing it' fashion (for us lot at least), we picked up some jam sugar from the supermarket, picked out and washed some jars from the recycling bin, and dried them off in the oven. We then read (and largely ignored) the instructions on the sugar packet, and got busy. I don't think any of us thought it would actually work.

Process, process!

The loot.

Ideally, you'd have Lucy helping you. She's more thorough than I am.

The fragrance! The aroma!

But it did! The two jams we cobbled together that night are sensational, so much better than anything you could ever buy. The texture is perfect, and because the fruit was so fresh, the flavours just sing. Can flavours sing? Well, these do. A fruity symphony of Summeriness.

I urge you all to get jamming. If you use jam sugar, and follow the instructions on the paper bag, you don't even have to check for the setting point. It's easier than boiling an egg!

One final word from me though: wear suitable shoes. We'd been at the beach earlier in the day when we felt the preserving urge, and so were barefoot. We escaped without injury, but jam splashes burning your toes is a snafu I can do without having on my conscience.

Go on: find your inner Grandma and make some jam.

The Barefoot Jam Makers' Jam

You will need:

Summer berries
Jam sugar

  1. First, make sure you have clean jam jars. Wash them in hot soapy water, rinse, and put them on a baking sheet to dry in a low oven. About 100°C is fine. Boil the lids for ten minutes and put them in the oven too.
  2. Pick over your berries, and remove all bad fruit and green leaves/ stalks etc. Weigh them, and prepare an equal amount of jam sugar.
  3. Put the sugar in a large pan, and either add the fruit whole, or mash it in. You can purée it in a blender if you like (we did for the strawberries).
  4. Over a low heat, stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves. Then turn up the heat and, still stirring, bring to a full rolling boil (this is described on the packet as one that bubbles and causes the mixture to 'rise in the pan, and cannot be stirred down').
  5. Allow to boil without stirring for 4 minutes.
  6. Enjoy the aromas. Wow!
  7. Remove from the heat, and pour into the jam jars, filling them almost to the very top. I use a jug for this.
  8. Put the lids on straight away, seal tightly, and allow to cool.
  9. You now have jam!


  1. *Lick, Lick*

    God that looks good. Were those gooseberries in the photo? I've only seen them once or twice so I wasn't sure.

  2. I have to make jam for our local village show (just call me Grandma) so this has inspired me... i'll go fruit picking at the weekend... i'm thinking strawberry... lovely blog as always x

  3. You went fruit picking! I did... it was an anticlimax. I had been hyping myself up abaout it for weeks and I ended up with *some* decent fruit and bugs all over. Send me jam, please :)

  4. Oh my. It's looks delicious.

    I've been wanting to pick my own berries for some time, but I keep wondering how much it'll be....and hoping that it'll be nice and cheap?

    I think the kids would have fun...even if they don't actually like berries....the silly things! :o)

    Strawberries are my favourite! xx

  5. I've been slacking too... something is in the air.

  6. Sanjana - We didn't plan it, but I identify with your grief. There's an art to strawberry picking. Finding them takes forever!

  7. I'm always in awe of people who manage to put stuff in jars even if they tell me how easy it is!!

  8. I love your photo of jar & spoon - makes me want to have jam right now! So far I've already made apricot jam, strawberry jam and rhubarb jam. The smell is intoxicating, and they taste way better than store-bought jams.

  9. Yum!! This looks awesome! I just made some blueberry jam, so I can definitely understand the throwing caution to the wind part. :-)

    Also, pardon my ignorance, but...what were those green berries? They look like tiny watermelons.


  10. Where did you get those gooseberries??!! I want some NOW! :) Did you preserve those too, and if so, I would love to know.. how they taste?

  11. Hi! My name is steph and I found your through foodgawker... I'm hosting a jam exchange and thought you might be interested :) http://stephchows.blogspot.com/2010/07/2nd-annual-jam-exchange.html

  12. Looks FABULOUS! My summer jelly ritual involves wild plums, picked from the ditches of rural Iowa, and crabapples from the neighbors tree. I vow NOT to make it every year, but it's "tradition", and a little theraputic!


That's what he said.

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