I have clear memories of going blackberrying with my family when I was growing up, then coming back home and watching my dad making a huge vat of blackberry and apple jam. Even if it always came out absolutely delicious, I remember that it was always quite complicated working out how much apple to put in to have enough pectin for it to set and - yuck - skimming off the maggots that wriggled out of the blackberries ! I absolutely hate maggots so this could possibly explain why I have never had a go at making jam myself. When Tate & Lyle sent me through a fabulous jam-making kit, I was keen to see how I'd get on though. It contained everything I'd need : a jam thermometer, a funnel, two jam jars, a knife to spread the finished jam on toast and, all importantly, a bag of 1:1 Jam Sugar.
This sugar, specially made for jam making (although it can also be used in sponges), takes all the hassle out of the process because you just need to add equal measures of fruit and sugar - that's it, no lemon juice, apple or anything else is required because it has added pectin to help your jam set every time. My first stop was the local farmers' market half an hour before it closed so I could grab one of the bargain boxes of overripe fruit that they always try to shift at the end of the day. Sure enough, I managed to grab a box of vine peaches (also called flat peaches) for €3, with only a few mouldy bits to cut out.
I totally blew Pierre's mind when I told him that I was going to make jam - apparently he had no idea where jam came from and when I said I was just going to use fruit and sugar, he looked at me like I was a magician !
After peeling and roughly chopping the fruit, it was time to bring the sugar into play. I used 1kg of peaches (this worked out at about 6 peaches, although I didn't count them) so I used the whole bag of sugar. This produced four jars of jam plus a bit extra.
My first thought was wow, that's a LOT of sugar, but once it starts dissolving and mixing into the softened fruit, it looks less scary ! After about ten minutes of cooking and stirring, it was bubbling away nicely and starting to look like runny jam. As I had a jam thermometer, I kept cooking until it hit the magic temperature of 105°C (it took a while to get there as it seemed to stick at 102°C !), but if you haven't got a thermometer, you can spoon a little onto a chilled plate to see if it's reached its setting point by looking to see if it wrinkles when you prod it.
All that was left was to ladle it into clean, sterilised jam jars.
I had purposely left large chunks of fruit in it and they had gone perfectly soft and juicy. The kids instantly decided that they wanted jam on toast for tea and polished off the whole bowlful between them !
I still have four jars left though, which is pretty good going for half an hour's work. The question is, will I get to make jam tarts or a nice Victoria sponge or will the kids work their way through the whole lot on toast and in sandwiches before I get there ?!
Tate & Lyle have plenty of jam recipes on their website if you want to make something a bit more unusual, including Mango & Passionfruit, Raspberry & Rosewater or Strawberry & Prosecco Jam. They have some live video recipes too, if you need extra inspiration.
If you've never made your own jam before, I highly recommend giving it a go as it is so, so simple and it tastes divine !
for more info : http://www.tasteandsmile.com/
Disclosure : I received a jam-making kit from Tate & Lyle.