Sunday, 12 May 2013

Mixed Berry Jam

Hi! It's been a while... The kitchen at home (as I mentioned in my last post, the one that's been extended) is so very nearly done, or at least it's tangible if not quite fully functioning. The one thing we are allowed to use though, the microwave, is so ultra modern and hi-tech, that no one knows how it works! So far my dad (handy-man), brother (somewhat tech-geek) and I (impatient and dying to use anything in the new kitchen) have only managed to get the light to turn on inside, open the door (and not be able to close it again - apparently this new microwave does this itself!) and listen to it make promising microwave-y sounds, but unfortunately to no avail. The handbook, of course, is nowhere to be found, so until someone from the kitchen shop comes and shows us how it works our kitchen remains tangible and pretty much not functioning at all. This makes this post rather problematic as I had envisioned a relaxed break from the torturous monotony of revision coming home, being pampered in the form of food by my Grandma and making jam in the brand spanking new microwave. Yes, you read that right, the microwave!

You would have thought being a 21st century kid that it would be I who was discovering easier, innovative ways of making food. But I was baffled when I first saw my Grandma make jam in the microwave. Bung it all in a large bowl, blast the micro for 5 minutes, catch that last bit of Neighbours, stir a little, another 5 minutes, a couple more rows of knitting, another quick stir and taste, 10 final minutes, a few phone calls whilst watching the news and BAM home-made jam is done. Not only did I learn how easy it is to make home-made jam, but that was a lesson in multitasking to the max! 

Having no luck with our microwave I nipped over across the road to borrow my Aunt and Grandma's kitchen for a little while. With ten of us eating over there at the moment it is almost illegal to make anything in small quantities. Having said that jam lasts a good few weeks in the fridge, and makes a cute present so making plenty isn't a bad thing. 

Of course you can be as creative as you like with fruits and flavours. But for me, berries taste the best. Mixing them up you get a mix of tang and sharpness from the raspberries with sweet fruity goodness from strawberries and blueberries, not to mention the deep luxurious red/purple colour they produce together.

Mixed Berry Jam (Makes about 3 350g jars)

400g strawberries
200g blueberries
250g raspberries
300g jam sugar (available in all supermarkets, and is basically sugar with added pectin)

Simply wash all the berries really well. Either chop or mash the strawberries. Be as rough as you like as the cooking process breaks them down anyway. Transfer into a large bowl that fits into your microwave. (It is important it is a large bowl as the jam will bubble up during the cooking process.) Add your sugar and blast in the micro for 5 minutes

Stir after the first 5 minutes, scrape down the sides and blast for another five. Now add the other berries. (Adding them at this later stage will give your jam some extra texture. However if you want super smooth jam, add all the berries at the beginning and mash together.) Blast in the micro for another 5 minutes.

Be careful when you remove the bowl from the microwave, it will be very hot! After this last 5 minutes, I would take the opportunity to taste the jam. Check the sweetness. Add more sugar if you think it needs it. I don't like super sweet jam and this recipe suits my taste. But I'm pretty certain by grandma, with her sweet tooth, would add at least another 100g of sugar!

Next, blast for another 10 minutes. You should see the consistency start to change. First it will become more liquid, then it will start to thicken.

The final round of microwaving is really the only point you need to hover by the micro. Set the timer to 5 minutes, but stop and check after 2. Blob a little onto a plate, wait for it to cool. If it sets to a jammy consistency then it is done. If it's still too runny, put it back in the micro for a little longer. This last process is subjective to your particular jam, just keep going until you think it is done. Mine took 4 minutes in total.

A brief recap of the simple cooking process: 5 mins, stir, 5 mins, stir and add other fruit, 5 mins, stir and check taste, 10 mins, stir, final blast depends on your particular jam.

Bottle into clean jars, whilst it is still warm. But keep the lid lose on top, to let the hot steam out. And it's done! Home-made mixed berry jam.

//Click here to PRINT RECIPE//

Make sure you grab a piece of bread to scrape up the last bit of jam from your bowl, you know, just to check it tastes delicious!

Until next time...