Saturday 24 November 2007

Berry Good Jam

Last week I had been working on a project involving berries at work; when it came to the end of the week we had to clean out the fridges and the remaining berries were just going to be thrown away. I couldn’t let this happen, so I rescued them and brought them home with me. I munched a few but realised I still had too many to eat before they turned bad and so I did what I always do when I have too much fruit around – I turned it into yummy scrummy jam.

I love making my own jam, one because it lets you control the sugar level as I like to taste the fruit in my jam rather than just a sugary gel with a hint of fruit and two, because it lets you add whatever flavours take your fancy.

It’s always best to add a fruit containing a high amount of pectin when making jam, as it’s pectin which helps the jam form a gel and set. This is especially important when reducing the sugar content as the more sugar you use the easier it will set. You can also buy special ‘jam/preserving sugar’ which has added pectin but I don’t often bother. I usually like to add the zest and juice of a lemon to my jams, as I find not only does this add pectin but it also contributes a freshness and highlights the flavour of the fruit without being too obvious. However, as I reached for a lemon, my hand strayed and I picked up a lime instead. Hmmm… berries and lime, not a combination I had tried before but I decided to give it a whirl.

The resulting jam tastes amazing, I am so pleased I added lime instead of lemon. It really accentuates all the flavours of the berries and adds its own zestniness. Which isn’t obviously lime but really stands out as its own individual flavour rather than merging into the other flavours. I’ve never had a jam quite like it. Spread on top of a boring piece of morning toast, its zinginess and triple berry hit really packs a punch and helps wake me up in the mornings. It also makes wonderful peanut butter and jam sandwiches. I love its deep moody purple colour too, must be all those blueberries.

Triple Berry & Lime Jam

450g blueberries
380g raspberries
380g strawberries
500g granulated sugar
4 tbsp water
Zest and juice of 1 lime

Remove the stalks from the strawberries and place all the ingredients, except the sugar, into a very large pan and place over a high heat.
Bring to the boil and allow to bubble so that the fruits break down and go mushy.
When the fruit are very soft, mash them roughly with a potato masher to aid the breaking down process. You still want some large lumps of fruit to remain though.
Allow to bubble for 5 minutes more and then pour over the sugar and stir until dissolved.
Reduce the heat until the jam is at a rapid simmer rather than bubbling furiously and leave to thicken and reduce for around an hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so to prevent the fruit from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Skim off any scum that may have formed whilst boiling.
Meanwhile, place some clean jam jars and lids into the oven and heat it until just over 100C to sterilise the jars.
Test if the jam has reached setting consistency by spooning a small amount onto a plate and placing into the fridge for 5 minutes to cool. Then run your finger through the jam and if it ripples, then it’s ready. If not, then allow to continue cooking for a further 15 minutes before testing again. Continue until your jam is ready.
Remove the jam from the heat and the jars from the oven. While both are still hot, ladle the jam into the jars and quickly screw on the lids using a tea-towel or rubber gloves to protect your fingers. (If jarred when still very hot the steam will be trapped inside the jar, creating a vacuum that seals the jar, the indented popper on the top of the lids will even pop out again as though the jar had never been opened.)
Label and store until required. Once opened, store in the refrigerator.

Makes 4 large jars.


Emily said...

I love jams and preserves, although nobody else in my family does. The combination of the berries you used, sounds killer.

Gigi said...

This will be my New Years Resolution. To make my own jam. This jam sounds like a nice start.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what fantastic looking jam. Sounds almost like summer pudding jam, if you know what I mean?!
Would be lovely on top of a vanilla cheesecake.