At last I have cracked the secret of perfect (modest as always) jam …
I’ve been making jam for years – only in small quantities – but on the whole it’s been a triumph of optimism over reality. The only difficult thing about the whole enterprise is the timing – too long and it turns into toffee, and not in a good way; not long enough and it runs right off your scone. The classic way of telling whether you’ve cooked it long enough is to keep a couple of wee plates in the fridge, spoon on a drop of your hot jam and see if it creases a little as it runs … well that way hasn’t worked for me, ever. I don’t recommend it. You just get anxious watching for the crease that never happens.
The reason my setting point worked today was that I made the jam (plum, Victoria, from Newburgh) at work, and there, of course, there’s a probe thermometer. I found a book that told me the jam had to reach 105 degrees C to be done – and sure enough. No guessing. It’s perfectly set! Nice and wobbly on the spoon, soft and melting on the tongue, and it stays in place. I am a very happy jam-maker and am going forthwith to buy myself a temp probe for home use.
The other piece of (extremely simple) equipment that made the job easy today was my new jam funnel, purchased yesterday in Perth for £2.99. Instead of jam running down the sides of everything, it just went straight in the jar. Clean and easy.
Why am I surprised? My mother had a saying, ‘a bad workman always blames his tools’; and I’m coming to the conclusion that she wasn’t always right (stand by for thunderbolt). We could never afford any kind of equipment, it was always make-do-and-mend; so I’ve grown up always looking for the frugal way. Frugal is good. But so is my new jam funnel, and so will be my forthcoming temp probe.
Have also prepared a batch of damson gin, with damsons from the second Saturday of the Newburgh Plum Fair. Hoping for great things but will let you know in due course.