Monday, February 28, 2011


The last of the winter berries are here, some not quite good enough to eat.  I spent the day making jam, or rather, a kind of preserve. I don't like my jams too sweet or sticky and I detest having to weigh and measure, to add preservatives, flavourings and things to help them set.  I also find that the proportions of fruit and sugar in recipes don't necessarily work, it often depends on the kind of fruit, its sugar and water content and so on.  What I really want is something I can spread easily on my toast and, on occasion, on the tops of cakes or into tartlets.  Something that reflects the tangy flavour of the berries.

So I have devised my own simple way to make fruit preserves, by boiling the berries with a wee bit of water until the fruit reaches the right consistency.  Then I add sugar to taste and boil it down on low heat until it's a little viscous.  I've done away with testing for setting etc.  I just pour it into clean bottles and refrigerate it once it has cooled.  It lasts a month or two and if any yeast appears, I just spoon it off (without any ill effects!). So far, this works wonderfully for me - it's much tastier and lighter than most commercially available products.  It rarely lasts in my home for more than a couple of months - by when it's time for the next season's fruit- and a whole new range of sauces and spreads.

I've begun with gooseberries, a mix of orange and green, for a delectable sweet and tart flavour.  I'll move on to strawberries next, which are a little easier as they have more pectin.  The refrigerator does get a little full, but it's lovely to be able to see rows of beautifully coloured bottles and the best way to empty the shelves is to give some away as gifts!

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