Sunday, 27 July 2008

So yeah, jam! - no, really!

Having borrowed my Mum's preserving pan, and been dutifully supplied with jars, lids and sterilization instructions last weekend I couldn't wait to get going on my new venture. I've been hoping to get the hang of it so that when (more like if) we get a glut of courgettes I can make chutneys in time for Christmas.

Our rhubarb plant has been growing like mad, and there is only so much compote two people can eat, so I decided to get creative and make jam. I picked up a recipe online for rhubarb and pink grapefruit jam and decided that this weekend I would finally do the last harvest of the rhubarb and preserve it ready for later in the year. Of course it would decide to be the hottest weekend of the year wouldn't it? On the very weekend I planned to stand over a boiling vat of fruit and sugar. Brilliant.

Oh well, I decided I might as well do it anyway. I couldn't possible get any hotter (especially since I'd cycled to the farmer's market and back!) so I might
as well enjoy the purifying benefits of our lovely sauna kitchen. I went out and harvested as much as I dared from the plant and set about preparing it. As it turned out I didn't have quite enough to make the half batch I was planning, but I decided to simply cut down the sugar slightly and see how it turned out. I also decided to use pink grapefruits, rather than yellow. I thought the colours would complement each other and it would help cut down the sharpness. Also N is not a fan of grapefruit, but had admitted that the fresh pink grapefruit juice I'd had whilst in California was alright, so hopefully by using pink grapefruits in the jam he would still like it.

The rhubarb, peel and juice of the grapefruit and sugar had to sit for a while before the actual making could begin and the sharp citrus smell coming off it was fantastic, and the colours a real barrage of pinks and green. When it had rested I started the boiling process. It felt so exciting to be using the preserving pan, I mean okay I was making a very small amount and clearly could have used any heavy-based saucepan, but that's not the point! Plus in the future I plan on making large batches. Oh yes, be warned it's jam and chutney for Christmas this year people!

While the mixture was boiling away I poured the boiling water out of the jars that I had waiting and put them in the cooling oven to dry (cooling down from another exciting baked adventure; might as well put the oven on if the kitchen's going to be hot because of jam anyway, that was my excuse!). I really hope that I've managed to sterilize the jars well enough. I really don't want to lose my jam making attempts to mould.

It seemed to take no time at all. I was expecting it to be a long difficult process, but it all happened so fast, no doubt helped by the small amount, which is a good thing considering the temperature. I whipped it off the stove, carried the tray of jars out of the oven and began transferring the jam across into them.

Ta da!

How exciting, our very own jam, made from our very own rhubarb! I can't wait to try it. I am planning on having it on toast tomorrow morning, so will report back. The batch made just enough for this full sized jar, one tiny kilner jar, and just enough left over to put in the fridge to have on toast tomorrow. If I have stored it correctly it should keep for up to a year, which is really exciting. I am thinking of doing it again next weekend, this time with a huge batch of berries from the farmer's market. I'm totally on the jam wagon now!

Taste update: I have since tried the jam. It came from the fridge and was really solid, so I don't think I need to worry about the set! It's a nice little jam, not as strong on the rhubarb as I expected, which is a shame. I wonder if it might mature over time. The tang of the grapefruit is very tasty and I would contemplate making plain pink grapefruit marmalade. I did however, despite the tang, find it a little sweet. Less sugar and more pectin next time methinks.

In other news, the recipe for this jam was taken from a round-up of a jam and jelly exchange organized by Molly, of Batter Splattered, a food blogger who I read regularly. She is about to arrange another exchange and I've registered my interest. Who knows, my next batch of jam might be flying across the world!

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