I love summer. Ok, so I don't love the heat. I don't love the flies. I don't love the sun. I don't like sunscreen. I don't like sunburn, and I don't like Christmas but there are some things about Summer I do like. I love spending time with the family, both those here and away. I love taking a dip in the cool water on a hot day. I love a thunderstorm at the end of a hot day. Cold meats and salads for lunch. Quiche and Salad for dinner. And I love the fruit! Peaches and Plums and Berries and Apricots and Watermelon! But how to extend the fruity goodness?
What you need:
2kg of Your favourite Stone Fruit or Berries
2kg of White Sugar
and A Granny Smith Apple
Oh, and some Jars with Heat sealing lids
Ok. De-stone and chop the fruit into bite size pieces. Obviously you don't need to cut up berries, but plums or apricots need to be cut into quarters. Place cut up fruit into a big saucepan but don't put it on the stove top yet. Also chop or grate the granny smith apple and chuck in as well. It is important not to omit the apple. Stone fruit and berries are not high in pectin, which is required to help the jam 'set' so you need to get it from another source. You can get Jam Setta from the stupermarket, but you will get just as much Pectin from a Granny Smith Apple (and it is heaps cheaper too). Red apples don't have as much pectin, so granny's are the best.
I used Apricots because I managed to get them for $4 a kilo!
Now add the sugar, yep, all of it. Jam is not for the health concious. Add the 1/2 cup of water, and stir it through until combined. Now cover with a lid or glad wrap and put aside for an hour, but ideally for a few hours. The reason for doing this is to Maserate the fruit. The sugar breaks down the fruit into a deliciously evil pulpy goodness and makes for a smoother jam. You can skip this step all together if you like smooshy lumps of fruit in your jam.
Now for the cooking. Lid on the saucepan, cook on a medium high heat stirring occasionally until it starts to boil.
Once boiling it will foam up a little, ok, a lot. Apricots foam heaps. Some like to scoop off this foam and set it aside for use later. Once all the bubbles pop it makes an absolutely delicious fruity sugary syrup which is scrumptious over icecream, or blended into smoothies or for the more adventurous, grab a bottle of vodka, drink a few shots, and pour in the cool syrup, shake and re cap and set aside for a few months. Trust me, so very very yummy over ice!
Once boiling, you have to stir to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. Turn the heat down a little so that it is a tumbling boil, not a rapid boil.
After it has been boiling for about 30mins grab a teaspoon full of the jam mix, and put it in the freezer for a minute. Take it out and check if the jam is at setting point. It is a setting point when it develops a skin and goes all wrinkley when you tip it up. If it is not at setting point, cook for another 5 mins and test again. Once at setting point you will need to move quickly.
Time for the sterilised jars. If you havent got these ready now, you are screwed and this will teach you for not reading the instructions all the way through before jumping on in there! Easiest way to sterilise the jars is to wash them, then put in a sink full of boiling hot water for a while.
At this point you have two options. If you are after a jam with with lumps, proceed to the next step. But if you are after a conserve, jam that is lump free, pass your mix through a strainer before pouring it into the jars to remove any skin or pulp that hasnt completely disolved. You want to fill the jars to just below full and put the lid on straight away. You will probably have one jar that will not quite be full, and that is ok, you get to eat this one first! Once all the jars are full and the lids are on, tighten the lids a little bit more. CAUTION: They will be HOT! so be careful. Invert the bottles and leave for 30mins and then turn back up the right way and leave undisturbed overnight. What you are looking for the next morning is for the lids to have sealed properly. If you have the metal lids with the freshness seal, you are checking to see that the 'pop' is down. As the jam cools it contracts and kinda vaccuum seals the jars if you have a good seal. If they havent sealed properly, store your jam in the fridge and consume within a few weeks. If they have sealed properly, store in a cool dark pantry and they will keep for a few years!
There will be Plum Jam at our house next :)