Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Last Wednesday I went on a super fun road trip with my friend Fiona. We had luckily chosen the only day of the week which was not pouring down with rain. The previous day I had bought some gumboots for the lovely price of $21, but they were not needed because the day was so nice. I won't leave you hanging for much longer trying to guess where I went. I spent the day engaged in the favourite sport of the under 12 set - berry picking! The farm we sent to was called Chappies and it's in Silvan, just past Monbulk.
Throughout the day I managed to pick 2.5 kilos of blackberries and 5 (that's right, 5!) kilos of cherries. It was immense fun running around, eating our weight in berries and fighting off the old Spanish ladies for the best fruit. By the end of it all I had blue teeth and had probably ingested my fair share of spiders and other berry dwelling insects but it was all worth it. I had all these grand plans of cakes, cobblers, crumbles, pies, muffins and tarts, but to be quite honest with you I actually ate most of the fruit fresh. I did manage to leave a bit of fruit to cook with, most of which turned into jam. The recipe I am sharing with you today is for cherry jam. I had never actually tasted cherry jam before, which on reflection seems odd because as a child I was pretty much addicted to cherries. This jam is really delicious. And while it's essentially 50% sugar, just close your eyes and think of summer.
1kg sugar (plain white works best)
juice of 2 lemons
250g liquid pectin (or powdered equivalent)
Ok guys, this starts out hard but gets easier. The first step is to pit all the cherries. I would HIGHLY suggest investing in a cherry pitter. I got mine from cuisine world in Melbourne but most kitchenware shops should have them and they cost around $20. So, wash your cherries, take off their stalks and pit them.
Next put the cherries in a pot with 150ml of water. It is best to use a wide pot as it is easier to stir when the mixture starts to froth up. Cover the pot and let it simmer for around fifteen minutes or until the fruit is tender. Essentially you are just stewing the fruit at this stage.
Once the fruit is soft, turn off the heat and add the lemon juice and sugar. Stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved completely. This may take some time. It's easiest to detect sugar granules if you taste a little of the juice.
Sugar all dissolved? put the pot back on the heat and bring to boil for two minutes. You should probably stir it a bit while this is happening as well. Light coloured froth will come to the top. I think, technically, you're meant to scrape this off and discard, but I just left mine in there and it all worked out fine, so it's up to you (word of mouth tells me that if you freeze this froth it makes a really nice sorbet!)
Take the pot off the heat and add the pectin, stirring well. If you're using powered pectin then just follow the directions on the packet, you may need to add it at a different point in the process.
Put it back on the heat and and let boil for around ten minutes or until it is at setting point. To test this, put some plates in the freezer to cool. Take a little jam and place on a plate. let cool for a minutes then push the jam around with your finger. If the jam wrinkles then you're all set!
Pour into sterilised jars and seal.
*A note on sterilisation: If you're going to make jam then you need to learn how to properly sterilise jars. There are heaps of instructions online and in books to help you learn to do this. Basically it involves heating the jars to a very hot temperature.
*A note on sealing jars: I used plastic covers to seal my jars. The brand I used is called FowlersVacola Kleer View. To use, wet one side of the plastic and place, wet side up, on top of the jar. place an elastic band (provided) over the cover. As the jam cools the cover will tighten.
Happy jam making adventures! xxx