More jam from the plot

It’s funny how the smallest achievement can give you a huge sense of satisfaction and bring a smile to your face.  Making four jars of strawberry jams was one of those achievements.

This is the second lot of jam this year from the plot – the first lot being rhubarb and ginger.  I like the idea of making jam since it will give me a reminder of summer in the winter and it just tastes so much nicer when you have made it yourself.  I think, and I maybe prejudiced here, but I think your own jam even tastes better than someone else home-made jam.  I last made strawberry jam about 20 years ago when the boys were very little and I was trying to be a good housewife – then my marriage ended, obviously the jam was not enough, and my finances were non-existence so no more jam making.

I still have the copper preserving pan, funnel and thermometer from back then so I really have no excuse apart from a lack of confidence.  I did try making jam last autumn but it was damson and the recipe was rubbish and I had glue.  The rhubarb and ginger jam though is quite simply divine and has boosted my confidence.

As we are going away later this week I wanted to pick as many strawberries as possible from the plot.  The crop has been ridiculously bountiful, I have never seen so many.  However sadly only a third are harvestable and the rest had to be thrown.  I don’t know if its rain damage or some disease but many of the fruit are mouldy.  I had put a load of straw under the plants a while ago to protect the fruit but with all the rain we have had I suspect it may have done more harm than good.  So today I set too and cleared all the rotten fruit, disposing of them off site in case it is a disease, but I still managed to pick just over a kilo.  We have had numerous bowls of strawberries so I thought I would give the boys the evening off strawberry eating duty and make jam instead.

After my doldrums about the damson jam it was recommended that I buy the River Cottage Preserves Book  you can’t beat Pam Corbin for preserves.  I have to say the  recipe was incredibly simple and quick – much simpler than I remember.   I get very stressed about the setting point so ended up checking three different ways: temperature, saucer and wooden spoon tests.  Then I had four  jars of sparkling jam.  From the leftovers I scooped out of the pan, oh and off the spoons it is very good jam but the proof will be when I re-open the first jar to see how solid it is. But in the meantime I shall admire the jars of gooey ruby treasure on my increasingly full preserves shelf.

Note: I haven’t reproduced the recipe here as I can’t find it on the internet and therefore I don’t want to infringe any copyrights so if you would like the recipe I would recommend buying the book.

Author: Helen Johnstone

I live in Malvern, Worcestershire and am a very keen gardener. I started the Patient Gardener Blog in January 2008 as a way of recording what was happening in my garden and connecting with other like-minded people. I started a second blog PatientGardener 365 January 2013 in order to try and post a photo a day to capture what is growing in my garden or places I have visited

17 thoughts on “More jam from the plot”

  1. When I started making jams and preserves last year I just went at it with a “how difficult can it be?” attitude, and it seemed to work. Okay, so my rhubarb and ginger jam didn’t set properly, but it tasted amazing, and the strawberry and lemon jam was just perfect – sweet and bright red with a zing from the lemon juice. (I suspect the acidity of the lemon juice helped to bring out both the flavour and the colour of the strawberries; the jam seemed redder than the berries had been, and it tasted much more of strawberry than a fresh strawberry ever could.)

    I’ll definitely repeat my gung-ho attitude this year; I’ve always been rubbish at following recipes and just thrown stuff together like my grandmother did. -In other words, I have no need for the recipe (though I sort of covet the book anyway…) but is there a special ingredient in the recipe or is it just the standard sugar, berries, a touch of water?

    1. Hi FG – this recipe had a lot of lemon juice as well so I suspect similar to what you did. Really cuts across the sweetness. I want to make black currant jam and redcurrant jelly next year but think I need a few more bushes first

    2. Lemon goes so well with strawberries, I think. I’ve heard that in Italy it’s traditional to serve strawberries with lemon juice and ground black pepper, and that really is a delicious combo, so that’s where I got the inspiration from. (I didn’t have the guts to add the black pepper to the jam, though; maybe I should try it this year for a jar or two?)

      I look forward to the wild blackberries in the forest; last year I just picked blackberries from my garden, but this year I will try to make an excursion and pick a few pounds of the wild berries. There’s a certain primeval joy in foraging for food in the forest, be it mushrooms, berries or salad leaves.

    3. Hi this is in response to your comment on Helen’s post about strawberries. Yes in Italy we usually serve strawberries by slicing them or cutting them in half, adding a sprinkle of sugar then lemon juice; leave them for 15 – 30 minutes before serving. Strawberries are also great with black pepper (but not at the same time as the lemon) I don’t think that’s an Italian idea.
      they are rarely served with cream here, which is considered to kill the flavour. Christina

  2. I too have the book ,which is excellent ! Pam the jam has also written the river cottage cake book which is full of wonderful recipes.

  3. I loved making jams when I used to go picking…now I never get enough berries ont he bushes, vines or plants…i think part is the critters and part is the weediness of the plot…those look yummy and I think I need to clean up my strawberry bed again!

  4. Here is a relish recipe I think you’ll enjoy.. I substituted the Thai peppers with Jalapeno peppers. I got this recipe in a class at the Thornton Burgess Jam Kitchen a couple years back,,Awesome and has a nice bite.. Reduce the number of Jalapenos if you prefer a milder relish.

    Peach, yellow pepper, and Thai pepper relish

    Makes 5-8 ounce jars

    6 peaches, peeled, pitted, and chopped

    6 sweet yellow pepper, seeded and chopped

    4 yellow Thai peppers, chopped (Jalapenos)

    1 lemon, halved

    1/2 cup white wine vinegar

    2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

    1 1/2 teaspoons pickling salt

    Place peaches, peppers, lemon, and vinegar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat and boil gently. uncovered, for 30 minutes or until softened. Mash mixture (not lemon) frequently.

    Remove and discard lemon, add sugar and salt. Return to a boil. Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring frequently.

    Remove hot jars from canner and ladle relish into jars within 1/2 inch of rim. Process 10 minutes for half-pint jars.

  5. You make me hungry! Your delicious jam will bring back wonderful garden memories when you spread it on your toast one cold morning later this year.

  6. Your jam looks absolutely yummy! We’re hoping to make some Hedgerow Jam: red currants, blackberries, elderflower berries and crab apples. Hope it turns out looking as fabulous as yours 🙂

  7. That looks delicious.
    I made my first jam with foraged blackberries a couple of years ago, again using lemons for added pectin to help setting and flavour, and was really pleased with the results. I’m hoping to catch our small wild plums this year on a dry morning and make a jam from them too – they spoil very easily though, so it will require vigilance and fast work!

  8. I’ve been storing my excess strawberries in the freezer ready to make jam, I have plenty now so I have no excuses. Strawberry jam is the one type of jam that I usually add liquid pectin to so it sets quickly and doesn’t lose that wonderful colour, yours looks delicious. Christina

  9. ” A taste of summer in winter” certainly goes down well Helen. You will enjoy that bottled goodness. Not sure whether I will have enough strawberries for jamming this year – many are going mushy/mouldy with all this rain and mine are three year old plants. I spent part of yesterday morning though picking raspberries in the rain which turned into jam before the day was out.

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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