Jam galore!

Jammy fruits!

Summer is more than just great weather, sun, sand and surf for Nil’s family. It’s the time when we get together and do a few things as a family; one of which is making jam from scratch with just a copper pot, ladle & spoon plus a few empty jars.

Grandmaman‘s home during the summer is in a little hamlet just about one and half hours from Lyon city called Mazelgirard. It’s farmland country here and homes are at least 100 years old. There are not many young families; people mostly come here during the summer because Lyon city itself is blistering hot and Mazelgirard is way cooler. After all, it is at least 1000 metres above sea level and yes, it’s even cooler than Neuchâtel.

Here in her garden, she has what Nil affectionately calls “the family trees” – scores of winding bushes of raspberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants. And just off the beaten path are wild blueberries waiting to be plucked. The golden rule to how much jam one person gets is basically very simple – if you harvest it, you’ll get some. With the family trees, Grandmaman is pretty much relaxed about who gets how many bottles; she adopts the “if you helped cook it, you get some”.

This year, pickings for blackcurrants in the garden are pretty slim, so Nil – blackcurrants are his favourite – decided to head out to the local Saturday market in search of some good old cassis just so he can have his yearly supply of blackcurrant jam. Prior to that, we decided to throw caution to the wind and get some apricots – no one really likes apricot jam in the family but since it was my first time, they thought it’d be nice for me to try my hand at making some jam. Needless to say, the rest is history.

Mashing up some blackcurrants Mashed redcurrants & raspberry Blackcurrants with sugar Apricot + sugar = jam in the making

Jam making is a simple yet complex affair. The recipe is short and sweet but the process leading up to the bottling itself can be quite tedious. Depending on what exactly you’re making, it can range from a simple thing as washing and cutting, to mashing and filtering. After which, the rules are easy to follow – don’t let it burn, keep it boiling, fill it to the top (less air is better), bottle and cap it immediately. If done and stored well, jam can keep up to a year. Nil’s family usually stores their jars in the basement but basically anywhere cool and dark is fine. Once opened though, jam must be kept in the fridge.

Apricot/Blueberry jam
To make 12 jars (medium to large)

Ingredients

Nearly 4 kg of extremely ripe apricots/ripe berries
Equal amount of sugar

Method

  1. Wash, halve and remove the apricot pits. Place the fruit in a large copper pot. If there is juice, use it as well.
  2. Add the sugar and stir with a wooden spoon until well mixed. Set aside for at least 12 hours.
  3. Cook on a medium fire and stir occasionally to avoid burning the sugar.
  4. In the meantime, wash the jars and cap with soap and hot water. This is an important step. Hot water and soap kills off bacteria and sterilizes jar which is crucial in ensuring the lifespan of the jam.
  5. Once it starts to bubble, stir constantly. When the mixture has thicken*, remove from the heat and bottle immediately. Remember to fill the jar to its maximum capacity as the less air there is, the less chances of contamination.
  6. Tighten the cap – as the jam cools, it’ll create a vacuum space between the surface of the jam and the cap.
  7. Remove any traces of jam from the outside of the jar and keep in a cool place.

* To test this, drip a drop of jam onto a saucer/plate. If it congeals, the jam is ready for bottling.

Freshly bottled jam!

Redcurrant/Raspberry/Blackcurrant jam
To make 10 jars (medium to large)

Ingredients

Nearly 3 kg of ripe berries
Equal amount of sugar

Method

  1. Mash the berries with a grinder and discard the pulp. Pour into a copper pot and add the sugar. Mix well.
  2. Cook on a medium fire and stir occasionally to avoid burning the sugar.
  3. In the meantime, wash the jars and cap with soap and hot water. This is an important step. Hot water and soap kills off bacteria and sterilizes jar which is crucial in ensuring the lifespan of the jam.
  4. Once it starts to bubble, stir constantly. When the mixture has thicken*, remove from the heat and bottle immediately. Remember to fill the jar to its maximum capacity as the less air there is, the less chances of contamination.
  5. Tighten the cap – as the jam cools, it’ll create a vacuum space between the surface of the jam and the cap.
  6. Remove any traces of jam from the outside of the jar and keep in a cool place.

* To test this, drip a drop of jam onto a saucer/plate. If it congeals, the jam is ready for bottling.

After it’s cool, the jam can be eaten with breads, plain yoghurt or fresh cheese or made into jam tartelettes and used as muffin fillings. Right now, I’m looking at around 10 jars of four types of jam…and if all goes well, I just might churn out a jam tartelette this week! 😆

Apricot & blackcurrant jam with fresh cottage cheese

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1 Comment

  1. looks great! I don’t like eating jam, but love making it too! We put a little lemon juice or citric acid and some jelling thing in ours though (pectin, i think!…

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