Foraging and Jam making

Back in the days of yore (well a few years ago) I was involved in setting up Transition Edinburgh.  If you read our book or the transition books themselves you will know that one of the transition aims is resilience.  In one of our early meetings when we were discussing this someone suggested they would like to learn to make jam.  I offered but we never got round to it. Anyway in the borders last week when on a walk (really looking for Sloes to make Sloe gin) we came across some Blackberries (not even many of these around after this “summer”).  Today I made what we picked into Jam.

Here’s how (relative quantities for this jam only- for other types proportions are different) .  Take 3Kg’s of fruit, 3Kg’s of Sugar and 175ml of water. (Use direct proportion to downsize the quantities if you have less fruit.)  I cheat and use jam making sugar, but otherwise you need to add the juice of two lemons or some apple to the above to get it to set.  Heat fruit until it boils in water and its own juice.  Slowly add sugar so it dissolves completely (at this stage the fruit won’t disintegrate any more).  Bring to boil again then take a teaspoon out put it on a plate and see if it sets.  Push your finger through the sample when its cooled, if it wrinkles ahead of your finger then it should be ready.  This last test has failed for me recently although I don’t know why, the jam seemed to set on the test, but turned out a bit runny.  Finally add a knob of butter and mix, this stops scum forming on the surface (presumably by altering the surface tension).  Wait 10 minutes for it to cool, then pour into jars.  I don’t bother sterilising the jars or put the pads on top of the jam in the jars -it rarely goes off, it doesn’t last long enough in our house. If mould does form its because I have not added enough sugar.  Conversely if you add too much sugar you get crystals of sugar forming in the jam – disgusting.  That’s it-took less than 30 minutes to make.

Neil

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