June 2, 2009
Strawberry And Apple Jam
I get really fussy sometimes. Today is one of those times. I wanted to make a 'perfect jam'. Bringing home some beautiful strawberries yesterday and some crispy green apples, the jam's fate was sealed. Strawberry and Apple it is.
I've made this jam before and I adored it's brilliant ruby colour and the tangy taste it left on my palate as opposed to the often sickly sweet associated with some jams. The last one I made didn't jell to the extent I would have liked so I decided to add a small muslin bag together with lemon seeds inside. See; I told you I was feeling fussy. I also had a bowl of water with fresh lemon slices in it and a couple of good squeezes of lemon juice to receive the apples slices as I cut them so as to avoid any browning whatsoever. Fussy? Sure, but it worked and I was glad I did. You can decide how fussy you would like to be.
Once today is over I shall have my first preserve ready for the show. You see our local agricultural show is on at the end of June and my family always goes through the chaos, fun, pain, effort and joy at participating and competing on some level. Hubby always has his amazing produce entered (thanks to The Borb and I). The Borb takes ages carefully selecting and picking the top quality fruit whilst I spend ages washing and polishing the fruit before painstakingly arranging it in the little cane baskets. Hubby simply walks up to the pavillion and walks away with the ribbons and prize money whilst we shake our heads without any credit at all. But we love it.
Photographic daughter has entered her photographic works for the last two years and has had astounding success. Really. I'm not just saying that. Last year, she entered seven categories and she won four firsts, one second and one third. It goes without saying she took the coveted purple grand champion ribbon. Oh my; I was bursting with pride.
I always enter something in the cake section; and I am happy to say I usually come away with a couple of ribbons. I'll talk more about this as the show gets closer. But for now, let's concentrate on the preserves. I have some tomatoes that are sitting, trying to ripen; emphasis on "trying". So instead of the tomato relish I was meant to be doing, strawberry and apple jam is first off the rank.
Strawberry and Apple Jam
3 medium green apples
1/4 cup lemon juice
1kg white or caster sugar
Hull and halve the strawberries. Cut out bruised spots and do not use any that are too ripe. Set aside in a clean bowl.
Get some lemons; if you're fortunate enough to have a tree, pick them straight from the tree as the pectin content will be at it's highest. Select lemons that are slightly underripe. You will get the best possible jelling results doing this.
Squeeze a whole lemon into a big bowl of water; peel and quarter the green apples; remove seeds and core; slice thinly. Place the apple slices straight into the lemon water.
Take some muslin fabric and cut out a small square. You only need enough to hold the pips from a couple of lemons.
Take a clean bowl; pour in some boiling hot water and place your muslin square into the water. This is the next best step to sterilising the cloth.
Squeeze a couple of lemons and reserve the juice.
Line a small bowl with the well rinsed muslin square and place all the lemon pips you can extract from the lemons.
Secure the pips well and tie a knot with some twine to create a small muslin bag.
In a heavy based pan place the strawberries, drained apples, muslin bag, 1/4 cup of lemon juice and three cups of water. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer covered for about 20 minutes or until the apples have softened. Take out muslin bag; pour the sugar into the centre of the pot; stir gently till the sugar has dissolved then boil steadily for about 30 minutes or till the jam has set. I place a saucer in the freezer and test the jam by dropping a little onto the saucer; then pressing to see how wrinkled it looks. If it is quite runny then more cooking is required.
I was delighted with the jell consistency of my jam. Although it looks like it is quite runny and I'm thinking it will never take, it somehow magically all comes together. Patience and watching the pot are critical ingredients for jam making.
It is important to allow the jam to sit for about 10 minutes before pouring into sterilized jars. You risk the fruit sinking to the bottom if you pour it in right away. Make sure that any scum has been removed. You will find scum always rises to the top and moves to the sides of the pot so it is easy to spoon off. I use the pictured ladle to fill the jam jars. Seal while hot.
I quickly whipped up my scone recipe (this time I didn't forget the butter); beat some thickened cream and enjoyed the fruits of my "fussy" labour. And boy was it worth it!
So is my Strawberry and Apple Jam worthy of a ribbon? Only time will tell.