Following on from all the cool things we could do with strawberries, jam was one of the obvious options which would store well and draw out the fun. Armed with some of my mother’s advice, Amy’s mother’s advice and a recipe off the BBC website I set sail on my maiden voyage of jam-making. I prepared thoroughly. Strawbs ready, sugar weighed, saucers in the freezer and jam jars sterilizing in the oven. Recipe / mother’s emails on the side and I was ready to go. It all started quite well and the house quickly filled with the lush sickly sweet smell so reminiscent of my youth. Livy appeared early on to check I was ok and passed on her words of advice “think about the science”. Now, as you may know, my life skills lie neither in cooking nor science and so alas things quickly deteriorated.
In my defence, the test to tell if jam has reached it’s setting point is very subjective. Put a dollop of said jam on a cold saucer, poke your finger in and if the skin wrinkles it’s set, if it’s liquid you need to keep boiling. Now, that all sounds very simple but with such treasured ingredients I really didn’t want to produce a runny jam. I mean, I’d never live it down. And so I kept boiling…and kept boiling…and then it started to turn a funny dark blood red colour and that lovely sweet smell was replaced by something else. In short, as my father would say, I burnt the arse out of it.
Livy had to come and rescue me and it was all very, very embarrassing . At one point there was a discussion as whether we should just boil it a bit more, pour it in a baking tray and slice it up to make strawberry toffee. Runny jam would have been better however as it is, I have a “very concentrated” batch of jam. Still edible although definitely not as my mother used to make, barely jam at all really. Caustic soda and a lot of elbow grease was required to restore the pan and I was quite frankly, mortified. 2 days later though I was back on the horse, albeit under strict supervision. Black currant this time, much easier.