Hold a jar of homemade jam or jelly up to the sunlight and it’s like looking through a beautiful stained glass window. A little pot of love right there. There’s something so satisfying about the whole jam making process; from using up a glut of berries, to creating a perfect blob of jelly to spread on toast to sharing jars of the good stuff with friends, through to the taste of summer fruit on a dark winters morning. I didn’t make any jam last year as we just weren’t eating it. Then I felt the urge again and it seems I’m not alone. There was a recent article by the fabulous Bee Wilson in the FT about the joy of preserving and making jam, (I can’t link it due to subscriber content but if you google ‘Why Jam is worth preserving’ it will take you to the full content). It’s definitely worth reading in full.
My fruit was picked over the summer and immediately frozen, except for the quince and medlars which are ripening on the trees as I write. And this year I will be experimenting with different combinations and different flavours. I have a few recipes I use as a guide but with each of them I ignore the amount of sugar they suggest adding. I tend to go on how sweet the fruit is and whether it’s naturally high in pectin or not. Last weekend I made a batch of straightforward redcurrant jelly with less than a third of the sugar the recipes all suggested. It holds its set just right. Neither too sloppy nor as solid as a fruit pastille. I think you get more of the flavour of the fruit and less saccharine sweetness.
Jam making feels like the preserve of those with the luxury of time. Yet it doesn’t actually take that long – the washing up is a different story however. But it’s best done on days with no rush; there is a witchery alchemy to it all. Savour the magic and watch mesmerised as the fruit bubbles in boiling pan filling the kitchen with the scent of the summer just gone. And if you really can’t be arsed to make your own – I’ve got plenty to share.