Sunday, 4 October 2009
We've been on a bit of a preserving rampage recently. We've pickled shallots, vodka-d some sloes, curded some grapefruit, cooked up some mincemeat and jellied some damsons.
I've not had a lot of experience with jams and jellies. I have memories of my mum and my gran both making big pans of jams and marmalades, checking the setting point on a chilled saucer and carefully lifting hot jars from the oven. I have fond memories of unusual jams (marrow and ginger being a personal favourite - I must find a recipe for that) and the ubiquitous jar of tomato chutney lurking at the back of the cupboard.
My mum came home from work with two bags full of damsons from her friend's garden. They sat in the kitchen for several days until we finally decided what to do with them. Jelly. Jelly is not the same as jam. the fruit is simmered and then put into a straining bag (a specific jelly bag or muslin) and the juice is collected underneath. This sits for several hours (ours sat overnight) to make sure all the juice is extracted. The juice is then boiled until it reaches the setting point and then poured into hot jars to create a smooth, clear, set jelly. It's perfect on toast or fresh bread and even goes well with roast meats as an alternative to cranberry or redcurrant.
We found a simple and easy recipe here at BBC Good Food.
Juice of 2 lemons
Wash the fruit, then tip into a preserving pan with the lemon juice and 300ml/1⁄2 pint water. Bring slowly to the boil, and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the fruit is soft.
Carefully pour the contents of the pan into a scalded jelly bag with a large bowl set underneath to catch the juice (see the Step-by-step photo). Leave for several hours.
Measure the juice back into the pan, then add 500g of sugar to every 500ml of juice or 1lb sugar for every pint of juice. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then raise the heat and rapidly boil until setting point is reached. Test this by spooning a little on to a chilled saucer. Cool slightly then push with your finger - if it wrinkles it is ready. If not return to the heat, boil for 5 more minutes and test again.
Pot into warm sterilised jars and cool before sealing. Can be eaten straight away, but keeps for up to a year.