This is my jam pan. It is huge and enormous and we rescued it from on top of my mother’s kitchen cupboards. She had at least 3 up there, I think they were breeding.
We’re at a bit of a critical period of the year as far as our preserves (ha ha!) are concerned. We ran out of chutney a few weeks ago as Blue seems to be inhaling it, and we’re running pretty low on jam. It’s at this point in the year that the balance between the shelf for jam and the shelf for empty jam jars starts to tip in favour of the latter, while the kids end up digging out something half-crystalised to spread on their toast from a jar that bears a label indicating the contents to be at least 3 years old.
|The 'jam' cupboard. Spot the home-pickled chillies|
I am not great at making jam. In fact, the Husband usually comes into his own here, confidently taking over the whole setting point thing, until he got so fed up with me wailing about it that he bought me a sugar thermometer. I used the sugar thermometer last summer when I made Nigella’s
peach and redcurrant jam . Not a fantastic example of confident jam making, granted, but we made some pretty lovely marmalade earlier this year with the help of the thermometer, and so tonight, I was prepared, and instead of sticking plates in the freezer, I just got the thermometer out of the drawer AT THE START of the process.
Everything is so late in the garden this year, there’s not much to make jam out of, and certainly nothing that could be worth turning into chutney yet, but we do have rhubarb. A colleague gave me this recipe a few months ago and I have been dying to try it. She assured me that the resulting jam tastes like rhubarb and custard. She was not wrong.
The original recipe was copied out of a Country Living magazine, but I have added a couple of bits in, and given some more detail in the method.
***Before you start on this, bear in mind that you need to leave the rhubarb to macerate in the sugar for at least 8 hrs – I left mine for 24 – before actually making the jam***
Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam
Ingredients: 1kg summer rhubarb (trimmed weight), 1 kg jam sugar, 1 vanilla pod, juice of half a lemon and half an orange.
Method: wash and trim the rhubarb, and slice into short lengths – I followed the picture my friend gave me so the pieces were about 1-2 cms long. Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds. Put rhubarb, vanilla pod and seeds in a large bowl with the sugar, stir together, cover and leave for at least 8 hrs somewhere cool – the fridge is good.
This draws out a lot of liquid from the fruit.
When you are ready to make the jam, empty the fruit and sugar mixture into a large pan. It will be quite gloopy and sticky with a load of sugar at the bottomg of the bowl. Scrape it all into the pan.
It doesn’t have to be a specific jam pan, but it needs to have a good, thick bottom.
Add the lemon and orange juice, then heat up the pan gently and stir (also gently) till the sugar is dissolved, then increase the heat and bring the pan to the boil till it has reached setting point. You can faff about with frozen plates but I urge you to buy a jam thermometer. It has a big line with the word JAM by it at approx 1020C /2200 F.
|check out the pink froth!|
When the jam mixture has reached this temperature, turn the heat off, remove the vanilla pod and skim off any scum that has formed on top of the jam. Leave for 5 mins then fill your sterilised jars (I used 850g rhubarb and 850g sugar and it made 4 jars). Cover the jars with a clean tea towel until cool, then put the lids on and feel smug as you put them in the cupboard.
Just loving the colour!