How much jam is too much jam? I’m hoping there’s no actual answer to that question because all I seem to be doing at the moment is making jam & chutneys as a means to use up garden gluts & preserve my favourite seasonal ingredients (that & I really like jam).
Once we’ve gotten the elderflower& wild strawberries dealt with, early summer in the garden always means masses of big, juicy, purple blackcurrants. A bit of an heirloom of the property that is handed down to each new owner of my house, my blackcurrant bush has been around for years judging by the size of it (with a good few left in it too I’m hoping!). In fact it’s so large that harvesting the blackcurrants every June & July is a bit of a hazard now.
Obviously the really big, plump berries are the ones hidden beneath the masses of green foliage, the ones that the beady eyed birds can’t get a hold of (little bastards) . Every year I end up looking as though I’ve just returned from battle after harvesting the blackcurrants as I precariously balance on walls, attempt to dodge the nettles as if they’re laser beams & always catch hands or arms on a pointed branch or two (you’d think I’d learn?).
However, it’s all part and parcel of being a keen gardener & forager. It’s all worth it when you triumphantly emerge, battle wounded with a basket full to the brim of fresh fruits! Yes it would be much quicker to nip down to the shops & just buy some but where’s the fun in that?
With so many blackcurrants to hand at this time of year, naturally I turn to preserving. It’s probably the quickest, cheapest & easiest way to use up any excess of fruits & nothing’s exempt from being boiled & jarred in my kitchen, not even the herbs & flowers.
Whilst my pantry might never (not for a good few years anyway) be lacking in jars of homemade preserves, I’ll let you in on a little secret… I don’t eat them all myself! In fact, about a third or the preserves I make throughout the summer will be given away as gifts at Christmas time. Yes, I really do think that far ahead (I’m far too organised for my own good sometimes), also, it kills two birds with one stone, I get to use up food that might otherwise go to waste (I hate waste!) & I can feel all smug during the festive season as I dish out the homemade goods.
Not everyone is a fan of the tart taste of blackcurrants but it really does make for a good jam. Much like a seville orange in a marmalade, it’s that tart, sourness that helps to counteract the hefty amount of sweetness from the sugar & maintain it’s fruity flavour. Not only does it taste good on your toast in the morning but I don’t think you can get a more gloriously hued jam if you tried.
Luckily, there are one or two blackcurrant lovers in the family that will quite happily take a jar or two of this off of my hands. A deep, sweet, flavourful jam that packs a good punch of early summer, I love it quite simply spread on fresh bread or (dare I say it) in a good old jam sandwich!
- 1.5kg fresh or frozen blackcurrants
- 1.5kg granulated sugar
- Juice of half a lemon
- 100ml water
- Before beginning, place a small saucer into the freezer to chill (this will hep us to test the jam later)
- Place the blackcurrants, sugar, lemon juice & water into a maslin pan or large heavy bottomed saucepan & give everything a good stir
- Gently heat the mixture over a low to medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved & no grains remain when you run a spoon along the bottom of the pan
- Add a sugar thermometer to the pan & bring the mixture to the boil
- Continue to boil the mixture, being sure to stir it frequently so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan
- Keep the mixture boiling away for around 20 minutes or until it reaches 105°C on the sugar thermometer (it may take a little bit longer, just keep testing every 3-5 minutes)
- Test to see if setting point has been reached by placing a small drop of the jam onto the chilled saucer
- Leave the drop of jam to cool for a minute & push your finger through the jam, if the surface wrinkles & you can leave a clear trail where your finger went through (the jam doesn’t flood back into the empty space), it’s done. If not continue cooking for a further a few minutes & test again
- Leave the jam in the pan to cool for 10 minutes
- Pot up into clean, sterilised jars & label
Check out my 12 step jam making guide for a little help with all things jam!