Saturday, 14 July 2007

The raspberry jam factory

As previously mentioned I visited The River Cottage recently for the full WI experience (that's Women's Institute). Following that I literally had a jam-making dream for at least 5 nights after - so decided to make some of my very own Raspberry Jam!

To make jam you need to first slowly melt the sugar, being careful not to burn it (as no liquid is added to the fruit and sugar), then quickly get a 'rolling boil' for about 5 minutes (this may vary, depending on what you are actually making). Generally I'm quite pleased with the result, although next time I think would be more careful to get a set with a lower sugar content, as it's a tad on the sweet side. Still all in all, I'd say I felt pretty pleased with myself when I'd finished!

Here's the recipe I used:

Traditional Raspberry Jam
Makes about 2.2kg (5 lb)

1.3kg (3lb) raspberries, washed and drained (it's really important that the fruit is dry!)
1.3kg (3lb) granulated sugar (again, I'd use less next time, and go for Golden Granulated, caster us too fine and is more prone to burning)

Cover the raspberries with sugar and leave over night in a Jam pan (Maslin pan) overnight if possible. This seems to really draw out the juices of the fruit, and is preferable to chucking all in right before putting on the stove.

Put a saucer or two in the freezer - these will be needed later on to test the set.

Cook over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes, taking care not to burn the sugar, but making sure that all is dissolved. No liquid needs to be added, it should just be fruit juice. A tip worth baring in mind here is that it's recommended you try to stir in the same direction, to try and reduce the amount of scum you get.

Once all sugar is dissolved, turn the heat up, stirring all the while to bring the jam up to a full rolling boil. A really big pan is needed, at least twice the size of your volume of ingredients, to ensure that you can get a full rolling boil without worrying about it boiling over. Boil rapidly for 5 minutes and test for a set. This can either be done by placing a teaspoon on one of the saucers from the freezer. Put in the fridge for five minutes. Once it's cooled the surface of the jam should wrinkle when touched, if this is the case it has reached setting point. Another way is to use a thermometer - once the jam has reached 105 degrees C it has generally reached setting point.

Allow the jam to cool for a minute or so - this will prevent the seeds from rising to the top of the jar as it cools down. Pour into sterilised jars and then seal immediately.

For a cheaper version of this you could try substituting half the raspberries with rhubarb or peaches.

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