sPicture this: It’s the day after a big party—a summer picnic, perhaps—and among the empty cups and used plates, the slightly soggy crackers and used slices of cheese, is an assortment of fruit scraps.
Maybe it’s the unused berries or passion fruit on the pavlova, or the extra unused flesh on the mango float. Most likely, there are some lemon slices who have not fulfilled their dream of becoming a garnish. Whatever the case, there really isn’t enough of anything that much can be done, so these prospects will probably be sitting and fooling around either on the bench or in containers in the fridge until they are definitely of no use to anyone.
Enter: Use it to jam! This recipe allows you to turn chunks of fruit into a delicious preserve that can last for years in the pantry. Works best with soft summer fruits like cherries, strawberries, raspberries, raspberries, mangoes, passion fruit, peaches, apricots, nectarines, and plums.
If you’ve never sliced soft fruit before, don’t worry – it’s really not that difficult. boiled (forgive the pun), it basically amounts to:
Mix the fruit with ¾ of its weight in sugar.
Leave it until it becomes liquid.
Heat it until it becomes jelly like.
Put it in a very clean container.
Of course it’s important to make sure you do things safely — like sterilizing jars — but if you feel overwhelmed trying a traditional-type skill for the first time, just remember that once upon a time, people used to learn said skill with no fancy cookbooks, no TV shows, and certainly no Internet.
I gave an example of weights, but you can totally tailor this recipe to whatever you have on hand. Just be sure to add ¾ (75%) as much sugar as you have in the fruit, and you’ll be fine (from a food preservation standpoint).
350 grams of raspberry, blueberry and mango
262 grams of sugar To suit our fruit weight (350g x 75% = 262g)
About ½ slice of lemon1-2 lemons are good for most quantities
Wash the fruit in warm water, then cut off any small pieces.
Cut the larger fruit into similar sized pieces and remove any pips from the stone fruit. Soften the blueberries a little if you are using them. Combine with sugar in a large saucepan.
Wash the lemons and cut them in half (if they are not already sliced), squeeze the juice into the bowl, and add the remaining skin and pulp.
Stir until well combined, cover and leave to infuse for a few hours. Maceration is the process of bringing out the juices of the fruit using sugar, which turns the sugar into a liquid. This allows you to quickly boil the jam down to a bunch—meaning the fruit is more likely to stay in pieces rather than turn into mush.
Once the sugar has dissolved, place the pot on the stove and bring to a boil.
Leave the jam to boil until it thickens. The jam or jelly is at its starting point when it has firmed enough to form a wrinkled skin when you push your finger through it. The simplest way to test this is to drip a little boiling jam or jelly onto a cold plate, let it cool for five minutes or so, and then give it a poke. If it doesn’t seem crystallized enough, continue boiling for another five minutes and try again.
Taking care not to burn yourself on the hot jam, remove the lemon slices.
Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal while hot.
Keep it in a cool, dark cupboard for years before opening it, then keep it in the refrigerator once you’ve cracked the jar.
Most berries and soft fruits can be frozen, so if you have a few fruits on hand, just add them to a bowl in the freezer until you have enough to make a batch of jam. No need to thaw the fruit before soaking.
Because of the lower levels of pectin in ripe strawberries and blueberries, this recipe may make for a smoother jam than you’re used to. Be sure to add any white bits of strawberry, as they have more pectin and can help get a batch.
If only your jam No You want to set it, instead of continuing to boil it until it’s candy, just drizzle it with water and call it syrup! Excellent on ice cream or yogurt as a dessert.
Cling on to the lemon bits you pull out of the jam before they explode—either scoop them up to enjoy as a gooey, gooey candy, or pop into a glass with G&T or bubbles. Delicious thrifty!
Anna Matilda, AKA the Urban Nanna, uses permaculture principles to teach traditional skills, crafts, and ways of living within the context of today’s modern world. Visit her website for more tips on making jam.