Roland-designs , Virginie's blog.

"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday 27 July 2018

The red-currant season - Jam making tips.

The summer of 2018 is the warmest I have ever experienced in Norway, with little rain since May the lawn has not needed to be cut for 5 weeks, the grass is browning, and plants are not growing as big as they normally do. On the other hand, the berries are sweet and ripe at least a week earlier than normal.

I already shared my favourite recipe on the blog, but this time I will explain a few of my tricks for making jam (or jelly with the red-currants) with a shelf life of at least two years – One year I had made way too much jam so we ate some two years later, and it was still just as good.

I’ve been making jam since I was a teen and while there are many ways to make jams and jellies, the technique I use has worked for me well  over two decades and are based on traditional methods.

Don’t rush with making preserves, but allow yourself plenty of time since you cannot stop once you start. I usually use about 2 hours max from start to finish depending on how many jars I have to fill. 

My first tip is to pick the berries on a sunny day when they are dry, not after rain. For jelly and jam you need ripe fruits, but a few not so ripe ones also, the unripe one contain more pectin which is the thing that binds the jam together, only ripe or over-ripe fruits will make your jam runny and it will not set properly. You can buy pectin, but I feel that it is cheating to use anything else than fruits, water and sugar. 

Throughout the year I collect glass jars with good solid lids that have no dents or damages; I wash them by hand, never in the washing machine. Then before using them I give them a quick rinse before sterilising them in boiling water.

The secret to successful preserves is sterilisation, if the jars are contaminated in any way the jam will spoil.  I boil water in a pot and keep it boiling while I carefully place my pots and lids in it for a at least a minute, then place them upside down to dry on clean dishtowels and elevated on silverwares which also had taken a boiling bath. 

While kids love to pick berries and help in the kitchen, anything that involves boiling water and boiling jam is very dangerous and should be done by an adult ! I had an accident a couple years ago when my oldest daughter was helping me and we spilled a pot of boiling jam, if we had not been wearing aprons we would have been very badly burned. 

As soon as the jam is ready, pour it all the way to the top of the jars and place the lids on right away, the cooling process will make the jam compact and create a vacuum. This is a little messy, but don’t try to wipe the jars yet. Let the jam cool undisturbed, and when completely cool wipe the little drips with a wet cloth before storing. 

By the time the jars are cold you should see the lids have caved in a little, this is a sign that the jam is hermetically sealed and airtight. If you find jars that are not airtight, store them in the fridge – they will keep in the fridge for a good while, but should be eaten first. You can also freeze jam, but that is again – cheating in my book.  I like the idea of food items that does not require electricity for preserving it, and I take jam making very seriously – Ha !

Jam recipe:
Cordial recipe:

Red, sweet and juicy. The summer of 2018 was so hot that the currants were ripe a week earlier than usual.

My pots and lids drying after being sterilised in boiling water

Jelly filled right up to the top of the jar.

The jellies are left to cool down undisturbed, when cooled completely I will store them in a dark cupboard.

Cordial 2018
Moumousse - My garden companion

No comments:

Post a Comment