The Jam Shelf
Jam. The sticky, fruity, sweet substance I fell in love with & would happily eat by the spoonful as little girl. I still, unashamedly enjoy a jam sandwich today, though I may have progressed from crustless slices of processed white bread to a ciabatta roll, it’s still simply bread, butter & that all important jam. It may have produced my fair share of odd looks during work lunches before now (being a 27 year old woman wearing a Gryffindor lanyard may contribute) but lets face it, they’re the ones missing out on the joy of a childhood treat, add a munch bunch into the mix & nostalgia heaven awaits.
I’ll admit, I am a bit of a jam obsessive. Wherever I go be it a market, a weekend away, day trip, I will always return home with the same 3 well hunted out treasures: 1. A scarf (usually of the floral variety, there may come a day where I actually just become a flower) 2. Tea 3. A jar of locally produced Jam. Anyone who’s payed visit to my kitchen fridge knows just how deep this obsession lies, there is indeed a whole shelf dedicated to my glorious, glistening jars, some homemade, some picked up on my travels & some obscure flavours found in various retailers. It’s just lucky that this penchant for jam goes hand in hand with my taste for breads & all things toasted.
The first time I made my own ruby red jars, jewelled with fresh strawberries, I couldn’t understand why I had not done this sooner. Preserving is so simple (provided that you’re not accident prone like myself). Also, once you’ve tasted a homemade strawberry jam, you will never trustingly return to the store-bought versions, trust me. I was hooked & immediately set about getting the kitchen kitted out with maslin pans, thermometers & funnels. Vigorous experimentation began, fruits, berries, alcohol, marmalades, chutneys, all in an attempt to create new flavours. Everyone close to me now receives a variety of at least 3 jars every Christmas (they don’t understand quite how easy the process actually is). Three years & many scars later & I now have an arsenal of jam recipes ready to be called upon for Christmas hampers & enjoyable breakfasts. Here is one such unusual jam, with the addition of cinnamon & its amber colour, for me this is autumn in a jar: my pear jam.
(a sweet, soft set jam)
- 900g pears, chopped into chunks
- 600g Sugar (preferably jam sugar, but granulated will work fine)
- Juice of x1 lemon
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
(*Tip: place a small saucer into the freezer to help test the jam later)
- Place the chopped pears & sugar to a maslin pan, or large heavy set pan
- Cook slowly on a medium heat until the pears begin to break down (not completely hough, you still want chunks) & all of the sugar has dissolved (you cannot feel any grains of sugar at the bottom of the pan when stirring)
- Place a sugar thermometer into the pan
- Add the lemon & cinnamon to the pear mixture
- Increse the heat & bring the misxture to the boil
- Continue boiling the jam until the temperature has reached 105C on the thermometer (about 15 mins)
- Test to see if setting point has been reached by placing a small drop onto that saucer we put in the freezer earlier
- Push your finger through the jam, if it wrinkles, it’s done. If not continue cooking for a further 5 minuted & test again (this is a soft set jam so don’t worry too much about ahcieving a prominent wrinkled skin when testing)
- Leave the jam to cool for 15 mins before potting up into clean, steralised jar
Goes great with crumpets