A had this email from Becky in Australia this week with a bit of a sticky problem.
Thank you for that great list of what to do if jam goes wrong!
I’m afraid my jam is too runny (so I was going to add a lemon and possibly a grated apple and reboil) however it is also overcooked I’m sure. It was cooked for 1.5 hours I think as I waited and waited for it to get to that jammy state, however it never did!
Is it possible to redeem it?
This is my reply, right or wrong - I have no idea! Worth a go I thought and Becky is going to let me know how she gets on. In the meantime she is going to visit the orchard and get some more figs for jam! How I wish . . .
Hi Rebecca - apologies for not answering straightaway. I really envy you living in such a rural location - and for having figs on your doorstep!
Right. There are two things here - possible three, but the very first thing is don't despair - or give up. The only thing that needs to be disposed of is burnt jam . . .
1. You should have equal fruit to sugar
2. I allow juice of 1 lemon per kg of fruit as a minimum. With something like figs, which have very little natural acid, it would probably be prudent to add a little more.
3. Once the fruit is 'cooked down,'i.e. when it has softened, add the sugar, stir to dissolve then turn up the heat to achieve a rolling boil. Maintain this boil for 4-6 mins and then test for a set. Repeat if necessary. If you don't have a set after two tests then add more lemon juice and try again.
If you have a look back through my blog there are instructions on this and photographs to help you.
These are the rules for all jams made traditionally. The set is more a chemical reaction than cooking and if the 'chemicals' aren't in the right proportions then the 'experiment' isn't going to be successful.
The other thing is, don't overload your pan, leave enough room for the jam to boil properly. Once it has the rolling boil stop stirring. Stirring equals cooling down, which you don't want. Just check that the jam isn't burning with a very quick once-around-the-pan stir, once or twice.
Now, what to do with what you have made. Ordinarily I would just say have it on porridge or rice pudding or stirred through yoghurt. You could still do some of that but I'm guessing you have enough for the rest of your life!
How about, and this is quite radical as in, I have never done this, but why not use it's primary attribute - runny - to make some chutney which doesn't need to set?
If you started with say, 1lb/450g onions, sliced, and softened in 1 pint/600ml red wine vinegar ( or any vinegar ). Add 2lbs/900g peeled, cored and chopped cooking apples and cook until softened. You could add spices that you like cinnamon maybe, or some hard spices like coriander seeds, cloves, etc tied in spice bag, plus some fresh ginger, about 1 'finger' peeled and chopped. Let that all cook together then add the juice and zest of 2 oranges and 2lbs/900g of your jam. Cook all together on a low/medium heat until it looks OK.
Now, as I have said, that is all just in my head, it may not work but I would think worth a go. Just try 1 batch to start with and make any adjustments needed to get it as you like it. If you try this, my only proviso is that if it is OK you don't apologise with every jar as in 'this is my jam that went wrong' it is your Fig and Orange Chutney that went right.
This is the life of preserving, it is what our ancestors did, making the most of what they had and they would never have thrown it away.
Rebecca, I would love to know how it goes, please drop me an email if you try this out.