I couldn’t resist adding the words of the great Bob Marley, since it was this song that kept popping into our heads as we slaved over a hot jam pot!
Life has been something of a trial this week, with various teenage shenanigans keeping us busy, and rather mentally and physically drained. The one ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy week has been the bit of pleasure gained from making and preserving all the lovely fruit we have in the garden and growing near by. With summer now well and truly in bloom and our native summer fruits growing like mad it was time to take the initiative and make the most of it before the season passes (I can’t believe asparagus is already at an end!!)
And what a great way to lift the spirits!…a sunny days fruit picking. It’s a great family day out, either relatively cheap, if not free and it doesn’t matter how old you are, there is great fun to be had. Fruit picking can be anything from foraging for Bilberries on a mountain, stumbling across wild raspberries in the hedgerow or, for those city dwellers, simply taking a trip to a pick-your-own site, where you can greedily cram your baskets with as much fruit as possible (cramming half of it in your mouth along the way) and leaving with sticky red stained fingers and a load of brightly coloured summer treasures! I spend even more time picking now that I am selling produce as well.
At the moment we live on bowl after bowl of fresh strawberries, red currants and black currants, but I always keep in the back of my mind the thought that it will soon be over, so armed with that knowledge I always make sure I pick enough to make a good supply of jam, as well as sticking a few tubs in the freezer to whip out in the winter, when in need of a bit of summer cheer.
Strawberry and red currant jam:
I’ve often made red currant jelly and strawberry jam, but this combines both fruit to produce a slightly less sweet jam. I sold it at the Ogwen Agricultural show at the weekend and everyone that tasted it loved it! I guess it is a winning formula
I used just less sugar than fruit and had no problem reaching a set
1.5k strawberries (washed and hulled)
1.5k redcurrants (washed and stalks removed)
juice of 1 lemon
Put all the ingredients into a pan and slowly bring to the boil. Continue boiling fairly vigorously until a set is reached. You can tell if it’s reached a set by putting a teaspoon a saucer that has been placed in the freezer to chill. If the jam wrinkles when you drag a finger through it, it should be done. For ease I have invested in a jam thermometer, they are quite cheap and it should show you when the correct temperature has been reached. Boil at that temperature for about 10 minutes but keep checking for a set.
Once you have a set, pour the jam into clean, sterilised jars and put the lid on straight away. Leave to cool before labelling and storing. Jam should keep for up to a year (if not longer) if stored in a cool, dry, darkish place.