With mothers day just around the corner, I wanted to make the decision of what I would like to give my mother this year.
It was from her that I gained the love of homemade gifts, She has always instilled in my sister and I that money isnt everything, and sometimes its the effort that has gone into the gift that means more than the price tag.
With that in mind, I wanted to come up with something that is both something I know she would enjoy, and something that I could make for her at home. In the past few years I have often opted for experiences, giving the gift of memories with her family rather than something she could keep, but this year I wanted to try something a little different.
My mother LOVES cream tea – although she doesnt drink tea, so its more commonly substituted for a nice coffee. I have previously gifted her an afternoon tea with myself for some quality Mother/Daughter bonding but I thought I would go one step further this year, and actually make her a homemade cream tea.
The idea is to present her with:
– Homemade scones
– Homemade Jam (3 flavours: Strawberry, Raspberry and Blackcurrent)
– A nice tea/coffee cup
– and some shop bought clotted cream
I have a week and a half to get everything sorted, so I made a start last night with my first ever attempt of Strawberry Jam!
I followed the recipe for this from the side of the jam sugar I bought from the local supermarket. Which I halved, so i wouldnt end up with a mountain of jam I couldn’t store anywhere.
Here is the original recipe I followed:
– 800g Strawberries / raspberries
– 1KG Jam Sugar
– 1 Knob of butter
– sterilized jars
It seemed simple enough, so I cracked on with my fingers crossed I wouldn’t be left with a strawberry gooey mess at the end.
The first stage was to wash and cut the strawberries before putting them into a large saucepan. From here you need to start crushing the strawberries – using a potato masher works great! Depending on how many fruit lumps you like in your jam is going to depend on how much you crush your fruit, I kinda went for half crushed.
This was also the stage where I washed my jars, with soapy water and stuck them in a large saucepan, and covered them with water. The pan needs to be pretty large, as you need to have your jars raised off the bottom of the pan. I used my pressure cooker (without the lid) which worked great, it gave me plenty of room and there is a stand and tray that comes with it which allows me to have the jars raised off the bottom. I boiled mine for 15 minutes, and then turned the hob off. leaving the jars in the boiling water until a couple of minutes before I needed them.
Next, I added the sugar. The recipe says 1KG to 800G of fruit, but I halved this, so I added 500G of the sugar (as i was using 400G of strawberries). I gave it a little mix round, allowing the sugar and the fruit juice to combine a little before I put the hob on a low temperature and started stirring it all together. The instructions tell you to continuously stir it and not to let it boil until all the sugar had dissolved. This didn’t take too long, a maximum of about 3-5 minutes.
Something I wasn’t expecting to add into jam, but is needed at this point (according to the recipe at least) is a knob of butter! Continue stirring until it is completely melted and then slowly start increasing the temperature until the jam is boiling, and stirring doesn’t stop the bubbles. Allow it to boil for 4 minutes – i continued to stir intermittently at this point, just to stop it sticking or burning on the bottom.
Once the four minutes is up, some people suggest testing the jam is ready by putting a bit on a previously frozen plate and test if it ripples.. but I didn’t bother with this bit (for one thing the recipe didn’t call for it) I turned off the hob and let it sit for a minute while i sorted my jars out.
I was only using 2 jars, as I plan on giving my mum 2 strawberry, 2 raspberry and (after some sneaky recon) 2 blackcurrant. So I didn’t want to fill my supply of jars up with strawberry – their not cheap! This did leave me with quite a bit spare, but I have an old pickle jar which I sterilized with boiling water and was planning on using over the next few days.
Once I safely removed the 2 jars from the pan, I sat them down on a clean tea towel, upside down to drain out. After a minute I moved them onto the draining board and poured in the jam ( I had poured the jam from the pan to a measuring jug to make it easier to dispense into the jars).
Leaving a cm gap at the top of the jar, and cleaning away any dribbles I popped the lid on, and screwed it up – not super tight, but tight enough.
One thing I did notice, which i am going to have to work on, is that once it was all cooled I was still able to push the lid (where you can test if a jar has been opened or not) I am hoping this wont effect the quality of the jam, and that it will last.
All in all though, I am pretty pleased with my first attempt! I will definitely be doing this again with any fruit I grown during the summer.. although now I know just how much sugar and butter is in it, I may not spread it so thickly on my toast!
EDIT: I have since made the raspberry jam as well, it has come out a lot less runny then the strawberry, and I must say, after trying them both – I think the raspberry is a firm favourite!
I have really enjoyed making it, and it was the perfect little project to do while the snow was coming down! We had a fair amount – though not as much as other people from what I hear!
I would really love to hear other peoples experiences of making jam, is there an unusual combination you tried? Or if anyone has any tips for me please feel free to comment!