Most men choose not to talk about this. Those who take it too far end up dressing in strange clothes. The rest of us simply make jam.
These days jam making is a hobby that’s shed any pretence of having anything to do with what might once have been called husbandry or home economics. That’s because, for most of us jam making is less of an economy and more of an expense.
In the old days making jams or preserves was a good way of making excess fruit last over the winter. The sugar came at a premium but the fruit was free. These days one can get sugar at under 70p per kilo at Lidl but even pick-your-own raspberries come in at £3.50 per kilo. That means that 1kg of jam costs something over £4.20 plus the cost of a lemon, plus time, energy, jam-pot-covers etc. It’s cheaper to buy the stuff.
In the long run it might be an incentive to plant enough strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and cherries that I can make a year’s supply of jam for the cost of the sugar alone.
In the short term it’s made me get out of my decrepid armchair, out from behind this cursed screen, and out into the garden where there is a crop of blackberries the likes of which I have never seen. In three modest stints I picked two kilos or, for those of you who like their measurements good and true, 4lb 6oz.
This afternoon I’ll set to turning the fruits of the land into that which I spreads on me toast…..
And that’s exactly what I did. Very simple; 1kg sugar to 1kg fruit, juice of a lemon (optional), small knob of butter right at the end to dissolve the remans of the scum that you haven’t been able to remove with a spoon; simmer fruit for 10 mins, add sugar, bring to roiling boil for about 20 mins and hope for the best.
Urgent breakfast update, Saturday morning… it set. If anything I shouldn’t have boiled it for quite so long. The fruit and sugar were boiling for about 25 minutes in all (partly because the ‘frozen plate’ test results weren’t encouraging – i.e. the hot jam didn’t form a skin when dripped onto a plate taken from the freezer). I reckon 20 minutes max would be fine and possibly just 15 as the recipe advised.
If you can deal with the faff you could try 15 minutes and, if it doesn’t set on cooling, tip it back into the saucepan for another 5 minutes.