The light was fading and it was way past my bedtime when Mum and I finished checking the raspberry canes. They were laden with bright pink fruit. I was sneaking one or two into my mouth every couple of minutes. The pop of the tart juice giving way to a rich sweet flavour tingled my tastebuds. I was five years old and my lifelong love of raspberries had begun. Before I went to bed, I remember Mum saying, there are enough berries here to make some jam.
At breakfast the next morning, there were two pots of Raspberry Jam. Mum had made the jam while I was sleeping. I can still feel my amazement as I picked up the jam, it was made from the raspberries we had checked lastnight - magic. Those little berries made this delicious softly set vibrant pink jelly, that turned my wheaten bread into pops of colour. I was fascinated Mum hadn't had to go to the shop, to buy anything, instead she had picked what we had grown, and turned it into jam.
Jam - people say its complicated, or it always goes wrong, but really what could be simpler, than freshly picked berries, boiled with sugar, and left to set in sterilised jam jars.
Mum noticed the gooseberry bushes were heavy with ripe purple berries, when we were out for a walk.
'We should make Jam, Nics.'
Instantly I was transported to the morning I woke up to two freshly made pots of raspberry jam.
'Yes! Let's Make Jam'
The next thing I knew we were picking the fruit off the trees, leaving any bruised or overripe berries for the birds.
3.5llbs fruit called for 3.5llbs sugar and one pint of water. Jam making is slow it can't be rushed, even when the mixture is boiling with fury. It needs a careful eye, to make sure it boils and doesn't burn.
As the jam bubbled away a rich warm sugar scent mixed with a plumly fruitiness filled the kitchen. It felt comforting and homely. The way a good story does when you feel a little down.
No sugar thermometers for me, although the setting point is - (220F on a jam thermometer). I used the tried and tested method, or placing a little jam, on a saucer, setting it by an open window to let it colour, then poking it with my finger to see if a skin formed when it was moved.
Perfectly clean and sterilised - use the dishwasher and dry in a hot over - jam jars are essential. Anything else would spoil the jam. Making jam is easy - I don't know what all the fuss is about. I think sometimes people get frightened of the process and overly concerned about whether the jam will receive a firm set. Really soft set jam is much more pleasant to look at and eat. This recipe from picking the berries to sealing the jars took me less than two hours, and it was very relaxing.
A slightly dodgy final photograph, where you can see my reflection in the glass.
The deep purple of the set jam reminds me Autumn, smoky days and jam on toast by the garden fire.
Makes 6 x 1 lb pots
3 ½ lb gooseberries
3½ lb sugar
- Wash the gooseberries in plenty of cold water in a colander
- Then top and tail the gooseberries
- Put them into a wide preserving pan with the water and bring to a simmer
- Place the sugar in a glass bowl at the back of the cooker to let it warm
- Simmer until the gooseberries are soft and the contents of the pan are reduced by one third, approx 30-45 mins
- Add the warm sugar, stirring continously until it has completely dissolved
- Boil rapidly for about 10 minutes until setting point is reached (220F on a jam thermometer)
- Pour into hot clean jars and seal.
- The jam will keep for up to six months
Today I am linking up with Kent Weakley for Sweet Shot Tuesday - please join us here.
That's it for now ...
Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable
Photographs taken by iPhone