You don't have to understand the world. You just have to find your own way around in it. - Albert Einstein

Monday, 1 October 2012

of the First Adventure in Jam-making, and Outrageous Success

I've often thought of making jam, especially when there happens to be a local glut of some fruit in particular. Or when I find a recipe for something tantalisingly exotic, like White Peach and Rose Jam or Blueberry and Blackberry Jam. I've often read through the recipes and instructions for jam-making, and visualised myself performing the actions described. At some point, however, I would feel overwhelmed or discouraged, and come up with a story about why it might be a disaster - anything from burning myself, to bugs that survive my sterilisation procedures, to failing to comprehend the setting point.

Somehow I'd been feeling a bit inspired and adventurous when I went shopping at the greengrocers, and found strawberries for 69c a punnet. Of course I bought six punnets, and then I had to find something to do with them. When I found a recipe that used 500g of strawberries to make just one jar of jam, I reasoned that I had little to lose if it didn't work out.

I washed and hulled and halved the berries, and mixed them up with 350g sugar and the juice and zest of half a lemon, and put them on the stove to get slowly up to a boil. Meanwhile, there's a glass jar boiling on the other burner to sterilise it.

Soon I had a frothing red mass of liquid, bubbles and steam. I was amazed at how the mixture became a liquid so quickly - I hadn't actually added any water. It seemed a stretch to imagine it thickening into jam.

But thicken it did, and then you know what, it started to look just like jam. I did that test with a spoonful on a cold saucer to see if it set as it cooled - and I don't know if I was more amazed that my jam had worked, or that the cold saucer test worked just like I had read about it.

And now it's jam in a jar. Not only did it turn out all right, I reckon it's the most amazing, delicious jam I've ever tasted.

And you know what people, if I can do this with strawberries, I can do it with other things too. I can make jam! It's a whole new world of sweet fruity goodness to explore. Excuse me while I dither with excitement.