summer jams

i’ve been making jam recently. i’m not sure why apart from the obvious and abundant supplies of fruit in the market at the moment. two batches of strawberry and a batch of apricot have been done in the past few weeks.

the strawberry was nigel slater’s traditional strawberry jam which has a very light set and needs to be kept in the fridge to thicken it up and even then it will run off your bread if you’re not careful! i tried using a mix of normal sugar and jam sugar in the second batch (2:1 ratio), to thicken things up, but didn’t like the change in flavour (it’s not as fresh and tastes a bit more “cooked”) so don’t recommend that.

the apricot jam was another simple recipe, this time from an old waitrose magazine. it too has a soft set but is less runaway than the strawberry. the best thing about this is using the apricot kernels (crack the stones open carefully so they don’t break and then blanch them for 2 minutes) to add a lovely hint of almond to the jam and an occasional almondy bite when you get a kernel in your mouthful of jam n bread (you can use the same technique with plum stones).

nigel slater’s traditional strawberry jam

again a fairly light set jam. i keep this in the fridge, which thickens it up slightly.

1kg strawberries

800g granulated sugar

the juice of a large lemon

wash and hull the berries. keep the small ones whole, and halve or even quarter the large ones. put them into a stainless-steel pan with the sugar and lemon juice and bring to the boil. boil rapidly for 15 minutes, or until the fruit is starting to look soft and translucent. skim off the pink froth that appears on the top then spoon into the sterilised jars, seal carefully and leave to cool.

apricot jam

1kg apricots, just ripe

700g granulated sugar

cut small apricots in half and large apricots into quarters and discard all but a dozen of the stones. mix the fruit and sugar together in a large container, cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a cool, dry place for 18 hours. carefully crack open the reserved stones (use a nut cracker or your pestle and mortar) and cover the kernels with boiling water for a few minutes. drain and set aside.

place a few saucers in the freezer so that they're cold enough for testing later. put the mixture in a pan and bring to the boil on a high heat. reduce to a medium heat and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. test the jam when the juice has thickened and the bubbles are large – the setting point has been reached when a drop placed on a chilled saucer forms a skin that’s visible when lightly pushed. remove from the heat for a few minutes and then and ladle into sterilised jars, seal carefully and leave to cool. store in a cool place for up to 6 months.