Saturday, March 27, 2010

"From scratch" part 1: Floor jam

You see, I had this great idea. The plan was to make jam tart (p210) entirely from scratch, i.e. making both the jam and the pastry myself. It was going to be a single blog entry encompassing three recipes, and astounding you all with my culinary excellence.

However, I've only made the jam so far, (yes, jam: It's that fruity stuff you buy in jars from the supermarket. You can actually make it yourself) an experience which has provided me with more than enough material for one entry. I haven't made my pastry yet, but when you consider how my last attempt played out, I'm guessing there'll be plenty to say about that too. So I decided it'd be best to make two entries of readable length, rather than expecting people to read a novel-length entry.

Since I had a large bag of blueberries in my freezer, I decided to make blueberry jam (p225) for my tart. It's really just a matter of cooking up blueberries with some grated apple, lemon juice and lots and lots  of sugar. Don't go imagining that jam is good for you - theoretically I knew that jam is high in sugar, but now I've actually seen just how high.

Because I don't have a lot of spare jars, and because my largest pot is really not that huge, I decided to make a 2/3 mix. Why two-thirds? Well, since the full recipe had three cups of blueberries and three apples, I decided 2/3 would be easier than halving. A bit tricky to figure out 2/3 of 1/4 cup of lemon juice, but never mind.

I peeled and cored my Granny Smiths, and grated them in my food processor. So far, so good. Into the pot with the lemon juice. Now for the blueberries. I got the bag out of the freezer, set it on my pull-out chopping board, opened it up and turned to get my cup measure. The next thing I heard was the patter of hundreds of frozen berries cascading onto my kitchen floor.

I grabbed the bag and closed it, but most of the berries were already on the floor. Some people would be dismayed by this, but when you're as consistently clumsy as I am, you begin to see these things as par for the course. I tucked my skirt up in my apron to avoid staining, got down on my hands and knees and picked them all up one by one.

When I had them all - or at least most of them: I'll probably be finidng stray berries for months - I piled them all in the sink and put the jam-making on hold for a few minutes while I ran a mop over my purple-splattered kitchen floor. Once that was done, I set about rinsing all the fluff and grit off my berries. I had the 2 cups I needed for the jam very quicky, so I put the fruit on to soften while I finished rinsing the rest.

And there were a lot of them. Once they were thoroughly rinsed, I spread the blueberries out on 3 trays and put them back in the freezer in an attempt to freeflow freeze them. By the time I'd finished this, the fruit I was cooking for the jam had softened.

At this point you add the sugar. With all the distractions, I very nearly forgot I was doing a 2/3 mix and added the full 4 cups of sugar. Luckily I remembered just in time. Measuring out 2.6666666 cups of sugar wasn't really possible (can't imagine why there isn't a 2.6666666 cup mark on my measuring jug) so I had to estimate.

From there it was just a matter of dissolving the sugar, then boiling the whole mixture for 20 minutes. While this was happening, I also had my jars and lids sterilizing in the oven. As I approached the 20-minute mark, I began testing the jam to see if it had reached 'setting point'. I think perhaps I let it boil a little too long, but I wanted to be sure that the jam would set.

Once I'd reached setting point, I took the jam off the heat, got my jars from the oven, and began spooning the mixture in. I was careful to put slightly too much in each jar - an overflow ensures there is no air in the top of the jar. I'd closed all the lids when I realised all three jars had air bubbles around the top. So I had to open them again and get the bubbles out. Once this was done, I reheated myself some grotty tomato casserole (slightly improved, by the way, by the addition of a little beef stock before reheating), poured a glass of wine and sat down to await the 'pop' of the jar lids sealing.

They didn't pop. With some phone encouragement from Mum, I ascertained that the lids seemed to have sealed - the depressions on the lid don't have any give in them - so I'm happy enough that the jars did actually seal, even though they hadn't made that satisfying 'pop'. Unfortunately, when I was cleaning the overflowed/spilled jam off the outside of the jars, I found that there were air bubbles in each jar that I had missed. That means that the jam won't keep as long as it should. Something to look out for next time.

Yep, next time: there are 14 more jam recipes in my Edmonds book. Then there are the preserves, pickles, chutneys and sauces. So by the end of it, I should be an expert at bottling stuff. But I think I did ok for my first attempt at jam. It's not really difficult: All the info you need about jam making is there in the Edmonds book. Of course, they did miss out the step where you drop all the berries on the floor, but I suggest you skip that one too.

Meanwhile, I'll be making my sweet shortcrust pastry (p81) today to finish my jam tart. I'll let you know tomorrow how I get on.


  1. Yum blueberries and cat fur!!

  2. Hey, I got all the cat fur off... I hope!

  3. Robs 2/3 of a 1/4 is 1/6. Thats easy isnt it?
    Still happy to try out your blueberry jam tho perhaps with scones (ex Edmonds book) and whipped cream (ex Edmonds book or otherwise) Baz

  4. Ok, yes, but i don't have a 1/6 cup measure


Popular posts this week