Jam Making - Preserving the taste of Summer and Autumn

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Every year I make jam.  Some are regulars, there's always Strawberry Jam, with the first Breton Strawberries at Easter.  I make more Strawberry and some Raspberry jam during the summer months in London.  When I return to Brittany in mid July, I step up a gear, making huge quantities of both Apricot and Blackberry jams.

It's wonderful to return to London in September and fill the store cupboard full of gorgeous, richly coloured, deeply flavoured jars of preserves for the winter.

One of the pleasures of making jam is that you don't have to use only perfectly shaped , unblemished fruit, instead you can concentrate on scent and flavour.  The fruit is after all going to be boiled with sugar and will not be retaining it's look. Rather it will be transformed into something with an amazing new texture,  more incredible flavour and a deeper more jewel like colour then it's relatives sitting in the fruit bowl on the kitchen table.

If you haven't made jam, please make this your year to try.  You do not need to make industrial quantities, indeed the best and tastiest jams are made with small batches of fruit and sugar.

Getting a set is important, and despite trying various techniques such as a thermometer or the 'drop' test, I find that the way my mother tested for sets works best for me.  I put several saucers in the freezer, and after boiling the fruit and sugar for about 4 minutes, I switch of the heat and put a teaspoonful of jam onto one of the chilled saucers, I count to 30 and push the jam with my finger, if the jam forms a skin, or rumples I know it is set.  So simple and it works anywhere!

As well as the regular jams I always make, this year I made both Mirabelle and Damson Jam in France.  The Mirabelle jam was a little disappointing, it proved to be very sweet, so I'll be keeping it to use as a glaze, rather then eating it on toast.

On the other hand the Damson jam is scrumptious, I added a cinnamon stick whilst it was boiling (and a glug of Sloe Gin!) I think it's perfect and as there are several jars, I think one or two will make wonderful Christmas gifts.

There are plenty of instructions and recipes for jam making on Sarah Raven's website and of course in her beautiful, seasonal cookery books.

My blackberry and apple jam recipe is on my blog.

Do let us know if you've made jam this year, I'd especially love to hear about interesting combinations of flavours and jams that have proved really successful.

Thanks for reading,