Autumn is now full on. The leaves are changing colour and the days are drawing in. The grass is covered in dew (and slugs) early in the morning, and despite the unexpected late warmth of the Indian summer, we know that winter is not far off.
A couple of weeks back, I made some Mixed Berry Jaffa Cakes. The jelly that was hidden inside these little beauties was made with home made Mixed Berry & Apple Jam.
I've never been a major jam maker on account of always having the perception that it is a real pfaff to make. I remember my mother making strawberry jam by the ton when I was a kid, which only seemed to result from what appeared to be an endless process of boiling jars, stirring pans, adding pectin at the right moment and finally, putting funny round waxy discs on the top of the jam before the lids went on. Really? Not my idea of fun!
But it would seem this may have clouded my view of what is actually an incredibly easy, very quick process. Jam may well be my new favourite way to use up bits of fruit that could otherwise be heading for the afterlife!
The pectin thing was always a particular putter-off for me embarking on jam making. But I have been encouraged by reading a number of recent posts from wise fellow bloggers, who insist the addition of pectin or expensive jam sugar for most fruit jams, is completely unnecessary as pectin is already naturally present in good enough quantity to thicken the jam anyway. This post from Laura at 'I'd Much Rather Bake Than....' gives particular persuasion from her wonderfully scientific head.
The jam I have made is born out of a hoard of berries that I found hiding in the fridge and which were unlikely to be consumed unless they ended up 'in' something. Although not completely past it, they were beginning to get a bit soft and I was having to pick out the odd one or two that were beginning to develop a fluffy coat.
There was a mixture of blueberries, raspberries and also foraged blackberries, but there didn't seem to be quite enough, so I also added an apple (which I had scrumped from a local orchard after the pickers had finished harvesting).
The resulting jam (the puree for which has been sieved) is seedless, thick, and very fruity. It has a rich Autumnal colour and a deep foresty berry flavour. The apple is still quite distinct, but does not overshadow the berries, which are by far, the stars of the show. Actually, I am really pleased with it...... for such a jam novice it is quite a success. This week it even got used for some Bakewell tart which was totally delicious...... berries and apple paired with delicious almond frangipane! Unfortunately, it got devoured before I had a chance to photograph it, but it will definitely be on the menu again.
I am entering my Mixed Berry & Apple Jam for October's No Waste Food Challenge, guest hosted this month by Vohn's Vittles on behalf of Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary, as it was totally inspired by the need to use up a load of fruit (and the reassurance from other bloggers that this was possible without any special pectin products).
Mixed Berry & Apple Jam
Ingredients (makes 3 medium jars)
700g mixed berries (I used blackberries; blueberries; raspberries)
220g apple - cored and chopped into small pieces (leave skins on)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
450g golden caster sugar (for every 600 ml fruit puree, add 450g sugar)
- Sterilise your jars whilst you make the jam by washing in warm soapy water, and rinsing thoroughly. Place the clean jars on a baking tray with the lids (rubber seals removed if using Kilner jars - these should be washed in boiling water) and placing in the oven. Turn the oven on and heat to 140 C/275 F/Gas 1. Leave at heated oven temperature for at least 20 minutes whilst you make your jam.
- Rinse the fruit and drain. Core and chop the apples. Place all the fruit into a large heavy-based saucepan with a couple of tablespoons of cold water.
- Gradually heat the fruit and bring to a simmer, pressing against the side of the pan with the back of a spoon to release the juice. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the fruit is soft. Remove from the heat.
- Push the fruit juice and pulp through a sieve with the back of a spoon to get as much juice and fruit puree as possible. This should make about 600 ml 'pulp'. Discard the fibrous bits from the sieve.
- Return the fruit pulp to a clean pan, add the lemon juice and sugar and heat on a medium heat stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
- Now bring to the boil and using a cooking thermometer, heat to 220 F (jam set point), stirring frequently.
- Remove from the heat and carefully pour into the sterilised jars straight away. As the jam cools the tightly screwed lids will 'suck in' to produce a vacuum and keep sterile for storage.
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