Monday, 24 September 2012

Very Berry

I can't believe September is nearly done.  Then again, I can't believe 2012 is so far advanced.... 

Vivien, Lucy and I attended the WI meeting together, which was about jam making.  Well, mostly.  

Here in Britain they do it completely differently to how it's done in the US.  I've only made apricot preserves the once, when the rental house in Salt Lake City had an enormous apricot tree.  It took all day to make and the next day to finish cleaning up the mess, but I was really proud of the product!  I'm sure I spent a small fortune on the big pot to do the processing and all those jars and lids, the sieve, the funnel, etc.  I've never used them since, of course. 

Here in Britain I watched a professional chef - Vicky Turnbull - make a batch of raspberry jam in about 20 minutes.  Here's the recipe she used:

Raspberry Jam

1 kg raspberries (that's 2.2 lbs)
1 kg preserving/jam sugar (which supplies the pectin)
Juice of 1 lemon

Makes approximately 1.6 kg

First sterilise your jars by washing them in hot soapy water, rinse and dry in a low oven.  Sterilise lids by putting them in a pan or container and pouring boiling water over them.  (Vivien and I debated whether this would actually 'sterilise' the jars, but apparently it is sufficient...).

Put the raspberries and lemon juice in a pan, add the sugar, heat gently stirring until sugar dissolves.

Bring to boil and boil for 5 minutes.  Drop a little of the mixture onto a chilled plate, push your finger through it, the jam should wrinkle.  If not, cook another 2 minutes and test again.

Pour into warm jars.  Put lids on immediately.

Keeps for up to a year, but loses colour over time.
While she stirred, Vicky had stories to tell about preparing food for various TV productions, as in food that would be displayed in the story.  She was also asked to play a doctor in a scene but, as her part was cut out altogether, it would appear her future lies in cooking rather than acting.  She does catering, dinner parties and cookery lessons.   If you were interested, she can be reached at personalchef (at)

One of the WI members bakes bread and we had some of this delicious jam on some of her incredible bread, with real butter.  Makes me think I should start warming my jam in the mornings...
The other recipe Vicky gave us was for Raspberry Vodka, and she had some she'd made previously poured into little cups.  This was also delicious.   Aren't raspberries a glorious colour?
Raspberry Vodka
500 grams raspberries (that's just over a lb)
300 g sugar (this is a minimum, if you have a sweet tooth you can add more)
1 litre medium quality vodka (save the bottle for later)
1 x 2 litre le parfait jar, sterilised (or can use a large plastic water bottle from the supermarket, with the wide mouth top).
Put all ingredients into the jar/bottle, shake every day (for a couple of weeks) until the sugar is dissolved, then store in a cool dark place for at least 3 months.
When ready to drink, strain the liquid through muslin and bottle in the vodka bottle.  Or if giving as gifts decant into smaller bottles. 
Can be left for a year to mature.
She said the same recipe would work substituting whiskey for the vodka and blackberries for raspberries.  It was just about blackberry picking season then.  
So guess what Vivien and I did the next time we got together?


Anonymous said...

Yes I make it the easy peasy way too, though I know there is a much more complicated method out there, the raspberry vodka sounds amazing!

Anonymous said...

Raspberry vodka? Sounds wonderful. And I can't believe that is all there is to making the jam. Of course, I probably still won't do it but it is nice to know I could probably manage should I try. : )

Anonymous said...

Blackberry vodka? I think the only stove top jam I've ever tried would have been orange marmalade...

Shelley said...

Tabitha - I just remembered that I did use the canning supplies more than once: I made some fabulous tomato sauce. Preserving other than sugary stuff does require a lot more care to make it keep. I must admit that freezing stuff is a lot easier.

Bliss - You never know, you might get hit with a windfall of something one day and want to preserve it. I'd never ever dreamed of making apricot jam until I did it.

Terri - I suppose one could try blackberry vodka; I don't know why not. Bill lives on orange marmalade in the mornings, but I've never seen Seville Oranges for sale in this country. How did your marmalade turn out?

Rick Stone said...

When Dad was still farming he had several fruit trees around the house, in addtion to the two large peach orchards that consisted of about 3,000 trees. A plum tree by his back porch produced a huge crop each year. Joanne would use them to made fantastic plum jelly each year. (I think all the equipment is still out in the garage somewhere.)

As for peaches she always put up at least a bushel a year but she froze those. One year Dad dropped by the day before we were to leave for Hawaii and delivered a bushel of his peaches. We both spent the afternoon and evening working them up and getting them in the freezer before heading to the airport at 5:00 the next morning. ;-)

Shelley said...

Rick - Yes, I believe I've had some of Joanne's preserves at some point. And I can perfectly well imagine her insisting on getting those peaches processed. I'd do exactly the same in her place. Good memories you have there. Might you be taking up preserving anytime? It's a fun hobby and a welcome Christmas prezzie!

Pauline Wiles said...

There's no way I have the patience to make jam... but I could probably handle the vodka recipe!

Shelley said...

Pauline - I think the vodka takes far more patience, given you have to shake it daily for a while and then weekly for six months. Makes 20 minutes of stirring sound way more attractive. Then again, it was delicious vodka!

Shelley said...
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