A Cry for Help
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.
So, you know me, eye for a bargain and all that, and I have several for you to share in.
You probably remember when we had Jam Jar Shop we designed and launched the red spotty lid? Now that the design registration has been transferred to the new owners we no longer have the right to sell the spotty caps. So far so sad. It appears though that there are a large number of the largest size - the 082 - in a warehouse somewhere and we are allowed to offer this size only on the LoveJars website. There are a finite number and WTGTG ( when they're gone they're gone ) I am going to offer them to you at almost cost price, we have only added on a fraction of a penny which will help to cover our handling costs. So if you can use this size get over to the website and snap them up.
Finally got around to making some Fiery Bengal Chutney this morning. Now, I hate making this, I prevaricate, clean things, sort out drawers, answer all my emails - anything but get on with it. This chutney is not complicated or very different from any other but for some reason, I have this mental block over it. Of course, it happens also to be one of the most popular. So it is made, for now, but won't be there for long and then I will go through the whole tedious process again. Do you have something like that? Just me then. I must have the tidiest drawers in Rutland!
These are my labels which I make on Label Designer Pro - you can too ( not mine obvs )
Tonight we have the inaugural meeting of the Patient Participation Group at my Doctor's Surgery when the people who have volunteered to be part of the group will meet up for the first time. So far, so normal. It is at 7 p.m. and my problem is that prior to this I have a pedicure booked. Now this isn't primarily a vanity thing - healthwise I have to take care of my feet but am unable to do this myself because of the self same health, or lack of it! So? So, I have to wear flip flops for the remains of the day because of polish drying etc. I am therefore going to be joining a group of strangers who will form their first impression of me coming through the door, at night, in the depths of winter, in my coat, scarf and . . .flip flops. Now, dear Reader, do I try to explain or tough it out with a haughty air of indifference to their stares? I'll let you know how it goes.
Brrrr! Most of our snow has gone - for the moment but it is still so cold! I keep wondering what it is like for our chicken - how much do they feel the cold do you think. They are certainly squashing up together at bedtime that's for sure but don't seem too bothered during the day - it's the wet that gets them down I think. There is my problem - I'll have to stop thinking.
I've been a quiet on the making front recently as I have had to be working for the government. Its one of those zero hours contracts only I don't get paid. I am referring of course, to the endless paperwork for VAT, end of year accounts, tax returns, corporation tax etc etc. Everything HAS to be done on-line nowadays - as you know, I love computers, the internet, technology - but only when it works, I find the HMRC sites clunky and quite frankly, mystifying. Why make something simple when you can over-complicate it quite easily. There is no paper alternative these days so if you can't understand something you can't resort to filling out a form and sending a cheque. There is a 'Helpline'. That is, if you have half a day to spare and want to lose the will to live. How elderly people without the internet get on I have no idea. Probably been in business all their lives, always filled out all the correct forms etc etc It must affect so many small businesses.
Anyway, to more pleasant things. Love is definitely in the air at LoveJars and we have lots of new products plus new formats. Rosie's Pantry is where you look if you are a home producer make for yourself, family and friends. Jar quantities have been reduced right down to cater for small orders. You can now order from 10 jars upwards and some of the bigger or more expensive jars you can buy singly. There are more ideas for presentation and some lovely new elements to Jarcessories!
If you are an artisan producer there are some new items in Display & Point of Sale in the main body of the website. A useful range of chalk boards and slate at very modest prices. We shall be sourcing more of this type of stock in the next few months.
These lovely heart trays are in sturdy card finished in a smooth silk effect. We easily managed to get 7 110g/4oz jars into the bigger one and 4 into the smaller. They are very inexpensive and available now, can be ordered for delivery this week.