Continuing a tradition of home jam-making
My mum made jam for as long as I can remember. It was a traditional thing, to store fruit when it was in season or when it was cheapest. We used to get to eat the skimmings at the end of the jam making sessions.
In more recent years the jam making increased and was sold, without profit, to support charitable fund raising. No doubt it would have been 'cheaper' just to put in the money rather than spend the time over a hot jam pan but these sales perform a social function too. I'm sure Mum liked to be known for her jam making, not just for what she gave in time and money.
I got more involved as someone was needed to pick our own fruit and handling the heavy pans got to be too much for Mum. Because of the 'freezer' jam making was no longer strictly seasonal, our own fruit could be frozen down. But at some point it needs using...
So what to do with the frozen fruit? Well make jam of course! I can't be bothered with all these odds and ends of 'previously used' jam jars, all different sizes and especially different sized necks. There is nothing worse than putting on a lid that doesn't 'lock' down. With that in mind I had been slowly accumulating my own stock of 'standard' jars as once in awhile I would buy a jar of cheap jam or marmalade. Having got my collection of jars the idea was that any jam that went into them would be consumed by 'family' or at least those that would be likely to return the jars. A bit of very local re-cycling. And so it was that the first batches of my 'own' jam were made.
When Mum was making jam for sale I would print off standard address labels with just the name of the jam, using an 'appropriate' colour. For 'family' use I started using plain paper and and a 'Pritt Stick' and any colour as long as it is black. Jam making is expensive enough without adding labels in velum and gold leaf! Besides which these 'utility' labels release easily in hot water unlike 'proper' labels.
My nephew's best friend, code name 'Panda', likes her jam, or more precisely anyone else's open jar, so it wasn't long before she started asking for the odd jar or two. "Can I have some Jim Jam", she said, and Jim Jam it became. One of these days Panda will return the empties, maybe.
To date Jim Jam includes:
- Raspberry Jam
- Raspberry and Rhubarb Jam
- Rhubarb, Fig and Ginger Jam
- Gooseberry Jam
- Strawberry Jam
- Apricot and Almond Jam
- Blackcurrant Jelly
- Orange Marmalade
- Orange and Ginger Marmalade
- Apple and Chilli Jelly
Most jams are made using 'Certo' recipes. One difference in my technique from my mum's is 'lid lock-down'. She was brought up with waxed paper discs and 'Cellophane' covers. When she started using jars with screw tops she would leave the lids loose, 'for the jam to cool'. My lids come straight out of boiling water as each jar is filled and are 'locked down'; no cooling; no waxed disc. It is quite reassuring to hear 'dink, dink' half an hour later as the air pressure pushes the lid tops down. The last six batches have also seen the use of my new stainless steel jug. It takes about half a pan of jam in one go. I quite like it as it cuts down on all the dripping that ladles or cups leave behind. Many, many years ago we used to have an aluminium measuring jug, I can't remember if it was ever used for this purpose. (I do remember it being used for mixing table jellies though).
A connection with my paternal grandmother, Agnes Murrie Kay Scott:
Rhubarb, Fig and Ginger Jam
- 1 lb Rhubarb
- 8 oz Dried Figs
- 2 oz Crystallised Ginger
- ½ oz Root Ginger
- 4 fl oz Water
- 2½ lb Sugar
- ½ bottle Certo
- Wash the figs and soak overnight in ½ pint water
- Wash the rhubarb and chop finely, chop the figs finely.
- Measure 1 ¾ lbs prepared fruit (and water in which the figs were soaked) into a large saucepan add the sugar and mix well.
- Add the bruised ginger (in a muslin) and heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally.
- Bring to a full rolling boil and boil rapidly for 3 minutes.
- Add the chopped crystallised ginger.
- Remove from the heat, stir in the Certo.
- Skim, pot and cover in the usual way.
N.B. I have adapted this recipe by reducing the water from half a pint. The larger quantity makes it easier to soak the figs BUT you MUST discard the excess, (what a waste of figgy goodness!), to keep to the required total 'fruit' weight. I also put the figs and crystallised ginger through a blender, (I don't like lumps) so Step 6 gets merged with Step 3.
I doubt whether this is the actual recipe used by her, she wouldn't have used 'Certo' for a start, but it is a combination that she went for, as recalled by her children and my mum. It would be nice to think that it was a tradition passed down from her mother or grandmother. Genetic Jam Making!