Jam Season

There's no doubt summer is my favourite time of year. I love the hot weather, the beach, tennis and cricket. And summer fruit is by far the most delicious, and in my opinion, the least boring. The only problem with summer fruit is that it's also the stuff that makes the best jam. And the worst part about summer is spending a hot day or night stirring boiling fruit and testing for setting point. Still, home made jam is definitely worth the effort, both in terms of flavour and cost effectiveness. Best of all, you know exactly what's in it. 

My favourite jam is made from fruit straight from the farm, preferably after I've spent a morning picking - well, eating two, then putting one in the bucket. But lack of time and energy this year has meant a trip out to the farms hasn't been possible. Failing that, I've only made two flavours this year, both of them a little bit experimental and very delicious. Neither of them is safe for anyone trying to lose weight. Thanks to Darren and Caits for picking/buying good fruit.

I'm not an expert in the science behind jam making, but know that whether or not it sets properly depends on the amount of pectin and acid contained in the fruit. Neither of these recipes requires additional pectin, but if you can't get the mix to reach setting point, adding a packet of Jamsetta will rescue it without compromising flavour. To test if the jam has reached setting point, place a saucer in the freezer and allow to chill. Place a teaspoon of jam on the saucer, and return it to the freezer for 30 seconds. If the jam is ready to bottle, it will wrinkle when you push it with your finger.

Apricot and lime jam
The lime juice in this recipe keeps the apricots tasting like fresh fruit, instead of overly sweet. 

1 kg apricots
1 kg sugar
1 cup water
2 tbspn lime juice

Quarter the apricots and remove the stones. Reserve around ten stones.  Place the water, apricots, reserved stones and lime juice in a large saucepan and cook over low heat until the fruit softens. Add the sugar, and stir well until dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly around 15 minutes. Remove any scum that forms on top. Begin testing for setting point. If the jam is ready, remove it from the heat and bottle immediately. Otherwise continue cooking, testing at five minute intervals. After bottling, turn jars upside down for ten minutes to distribute the fruit evenly.

Makes 1.2 litres.

Strawberry and citrus jam
1 kg strawberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1 lime, juiced
900 g sugar

Wash and hull the berries. Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and cook over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil, and allow to cook for around 15 minutes. Remove any pale scum from the top - brightly coloured berry juice foam is ok to stay. Begin testing for setting point. If the jam is ready, bottle it immediately. Otherwise, continue cooking, testing for setting point every five minutes. After bottling, turn upside down for ten minutes to distribute the fruit evenly.

Makes around 1 litre.

Now fingers crossed limes stay on special so I can make some marmalade.


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