Here at the East End WI we were incredibly honoured and excited to be asked to prepare jam and pickles for The Ministry of Food exhibition. We had one or two experienced jam makers in our midst, but most of us were novices to be honest. Which all goes to show that with clear recipes, decent equipment, fine ingredients and good company, anyone can have a go and get it right…most of the time.
We started off with raspberry jam, a very simple classical recipe with equal amounts of raspberries and sugar – just put in the pan, heat until the sugar dissolves and simmer until setting point is reached. Spoon into warm, sterilised jars, seal, label and wait until you’ve baked a batch of scones to enjoy the fruits of your labour! Easy peasy.
Our attempts at a dried apricot jam were less successful. We overcooked it, burnt the fruit and ended up ditching it. Lessons learned, our foray into rhubarb and ginger was much more successful. Two pounds of chopped rhubarb were covered in the same amount of sugar and left to steep for an hour (should have been longer!). The rhubarb and sugar mixture then went into the jam pan, we added lemon juice and three well heaped tablespoons of chopped preserved ginger; heated this gently until the sugar dissolved; and then boiled briskly until setting point was reached. This time we used Annie’s aged sugar thermometer and the cold plate test just to make sure we didn’t overcook the jam. Result – another richly amber-coloured jam with a lovely sharp taste.
Ingredients: 2lb rhubarb, 2lb sugar, 2 tablespoon of lemon juice, 4 tablespoons of preserved ginger chopped.
Recipe from Basic Basics, Jams, Preserves and Chutneys Handbook by Marguerite Patten.
Our next experiment was with carrot jam, a real wartime recipe for times when fruit was hard to come by. We wanted an authentic gadget-free experience and managed to produce a pint of puree from two and a half pounds of carrots after much peeling, chopping, mashing and sieving. The puree, mixed with a pound of sugar, lemon rind, and two and a half tablespoons of lemon juice, went into the jam pan and was watched hawkishly to prevent burning while it cooked to a jammy consistency. We added almonds and a tablespoon of brandy before bottling – the jam won’t keep without the alcohol and even then it won’t last long. Our reward was a lovely deep orange jam, with an apple-y taste, sharpened by the lemon rind.
Ingredients: 1 pint of carrot puree, 1 lb of sugar, 1 lemon, half and ounce of sweet almonds (we used flaked), a tablepoon of brandy.
Recipe from Bombers and Mash by Raynes Minns.
Our adventures have converted us into avid jammers. We made pounds of jam for the local fete to serve up with our home made scones. No matter how hard times are, there’s always time for jam and scones!
Colleen, Member of the East End WI