Jam Making Adventure…. Part Duh!!

After having so much fun making my maiden jam voyage when attempting Strawberry Jam recently I was keenly awaiting the fruit in our kitchen garden to hurry up and ripen. At my last check the blackcurrants were coming along nicely, as were the redcurrants on the bush beside them. “Great”, I thought, “I’ll pick them tomorrow and I can make my blackcurrant jam“. I cheerfully walked away listening to the blackbird whistling his tune, my head swimming with thoughts of delicious blackcurrant jam made by my own hand. Yum! The next day I confidently saunter over to the blackcurrant bush. As I approach a blackbird, startled, darts into the air and flies away. “Aw look at the lovely blackbird,” I think, naively, my fruit collecting container in hand. I reach the bush and see….. Oh no! No berries on that branch. Hmmm, I quickly check another. None on this branch either. Or this one, or this one or any one! All picked clean as a whistle. What’s going on? It was laden with fruit yesterday. Then, ping, it dawns on me. Blackbirds! No not the beautiful little sing song wonders of nature, but the jam ingredients thieves! I’ll have to make blackbird pie if I am to see any of my juicy blackcurrants. Oh well, there’s plenty of fruit on the redcurrant bush. I’ll leave that to ripen (again naivety rearing its innocent little head here too).

So I duly return to pick the redcurrant berries. Less of a confident saunter now and more of a cautiously optimistic walk. Oh no! Disaster! Not one berry left. I am crestfallen. My little heart has fallen out of my boots. Is my jam making adventure over?? Before it has even begun? Woe be tide, I’ll need therapy after this! It couldn’t be over so soon. I carefully scrutinize the bush. After turning over every leaf, I pick almost a pound of redcurrants that the birds, and I, missed on first inspection. Ah, all is not lost. It’s a bit of a leap for a total novice in the process of jam making, but I decide that I will make a summer fruits jam. Armed with my previously picked blackcurrants from the garden, and now the redcurrants,  Alan Conroy’s raspberries and Wexford Strawberries (both from the Shop) like Captain Luke Pickard, I boldly go where this jam making novice hasn’t gone before! Eek! As back up and defense against my naivety I call upon the expertise of Mum, and carefully position her at my elbow throughout the whole process. First I weigh the sugar and ‘warm’ it (I’m learning). Sterilize the jars and lids, and pop the testing dish into the fridge to cool. Then I prepare and weigh all the fruit and put it all into the pot. The fruit is now heated to the ‘setting point’ (I tell ya, I’m gettin’ good!) and tested for that all important wrinkle. It has to wrinkle if the jam is going to set successfully, something I didn’t really have on the Strawberry Jam attempt. But redcurrants and blackcurrants are full of pectin and this jam wrinkled away first time! So I quickly popped the jam into the prepared jars, scoffed the cooled stuff. Which was delicious!! Then I sat back and felt the waves of euphoric success washing over me! Ok, so that’s a little dramatic. I’m learning all the time, and did make a few whoopsies on the gardening end of things but still, I did it. Summer Fruits Jam. Woo hoo!! I’m loving this jammy business.

And since people are coming in to the Shop to get their raspberries and strawberries for jam making as well as just general eating we’ll have sugar with added pectin in the shop this weekend.

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