On the making of Jam

I, and my family of course, are very fond of our toast, and therefore jam. Breakfast, pudding after tea, snacks any time of the day, it’s a quick and more healthy than some option. We like our brown bread for toast, though an occasional foray into a quality white bread will do. On top, lashings of butter, and marmalade, jam, jelly or sometimes Marmite (not my favourite, but hey).

As such, over the years, I’ve moved into two different areas of cooking. On the one hand, I make bread. I quite like making bread. Its a very satisfying exercise. Once in a blue moon I get my hands dirty and hand kneed and bash the hell out of the door. Mostly I rely on a very good bread making machine, and partake of my usual pastime of playing with recipies. I have, by the way, perfected a very fine oatmeal and brown flour loaf. I’ve got it light, fluffy, with a lovely nutty flavour and little of the gritty nastiness many brown breads have. But that’s not what I wanted to talk about.

I’ve also ventured into making jam. There really are very few really good commercial jams and marmalades. The food industry as a whole, relies extremely heavily on adding pectin, and the results are thick and chewy. I like it soft and gooey. Commercial ones also often lack much flavour other than the sugar. So, I rolled up my sleves and started making marmalade first, then jam. I’ve had a few failures,one match of marmalade, with repeated attempts, just didn’t set. Mostly though, its great. There is nothing quite like a really good marmalade or blackcurrent jam.

But… Unlike baking, this is not a task I enjoy. It is laborious (topping and tailing blackcurrents is a pain, though I now don’t bother and the little flower bits seems to just disolve, which is a bonus), hot, often boring as you’re waiting about for something to happen. It can be painful, I have had more than a few burns over the years. And, well, its just not very much fun. But I persevere, sometimes the result is worth the pain and agony. Sometimes…

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