Thursday, August 6

Rhubarb and ginger jam

On a recent episode of Cast On by Brenda Dayne, she talked about wanting to make jam, inspired by a glut of soft fruit. With the theme of the podcasts being 'make do and mend', I was shocked to hear her say that she was intending to send off to the USA for jam-making equipment - jam pan, special jars, etc etc. My mum always makes jam in her copper jam pan (I think it was inherited from a relative or something) but I find it works ok in a large pan from my normal collection. From the comments you can see that I was not the only person who does this!

Here's what I did in my lunchtime last week.

Two kilos of slightly scabby rhubarb bought from Deptford market for £1 (after all the grotty bits have been cut off, makes 1kg)
One kilo of pectin-enhanced sugar (a surprise find at Housewives Cash n Carry, about £1.50). Regular sugar should be fine, since you have the lemon juice
Chunk of root ginger from the fridge drawer
Lemon (found at home)

Cut scabby bits off the rhubarb, cut into chunks and put in a large pan with juice of one lemon, and a chunk of root ginger, peeled and finely chopped. You might need a splash of water (just a splash, mind!) to get it going.

Cook until the rhubarb is just falling apart. Add the sugar.

Boil gently for about half an hour, until it starts to set. Meanwhile, put your recycled jars and lids on a tray and place in a low oven (gas 2) for about ten minutes to sterilise.

Skim the worst of the scum off the top of the jam as it boils, and cook till it reaches setting point.

To check this, take a chilled saucer out of the fridge and blob a bit of jam on it. Wait for a few minutes, then push it with your finger. If there's a skin on it, it's ready. Decant into the jars and put the lids on while it is still hot.

A few points to remember:
- adding the sugar stops the fruit from breaking down, so if you want your jam chunky, add it sooner. Also if you want it more like jelly, without seeds etc, strain it through muslin.
- having sterile jars is very important, so make sure they are clean first, and don't miss out the oven bit (or use the hottest cycle in the dishwasher)
- don't boil too hard, otherwise it will stick to the bottom and burn. This is particularly true if you are using a normal pan rather than a jam pan.


Bill Ellson said...

My late grandmother made jam and marmalade. She used to put paper discs directly on top of the jam to stop mold. Not sure if they were waxed or greaseproof paper but they worked effectively. However clean the jars are, outside of the sterile filtered atomsphere of a modern food factory surely there must be a risk of mold spores getting in. Keeping home made jam in the fridge discourages mold but does not entirely stop it.

How long does your jam keep for?

knit nurse said...

I've still got some without mould from two years ago! It helps to fill the jar as high as you can to minimise the amount of air in it, put the lids on while the jam is still hot, and yes you can put waxed discs on to stop mould forming although I find the ones you can buy are the wrong size for most of my mismatched jars! You shouldn't really need to keep jam in the fridge unless it is a low sugar/high fruit recipe, the sugar is there as a preservative. And if it does get mouldy, just scrape the top layer off - the stuff underneath will be fine (like with cheese).

stitchwort said...

That looks great!
Standing over a pan of boiling jam might be just the thing to make the weather improve. ;)

Sadly, rhubarb is too acid for us - makes our joints hurt; but I still have some marmalade oranges in the freezer, ready to add the sugar (bought too many oranges for the available jars in January).

I agree about filling the jars and putting the tops on when hot - the cooling pulls the tops on tighter.

Anyway, a bit of mould on jam is easily scraped off - done that many times in the past, before health and safety was invented.

Catherine said...

I've always wanted to try my hand at jam-making, but I too was put off by the lack of "proper" jam making equipment. I now consider myself thoroughly educated and will try it in my oversized IKEA saucepan asap!