A high summer preserve with vibrant colour and a lovely tang
Making jam is the most comforting kitchen task I know of. There’s something deeply satisfying about lining up a row of new jars of jam and adding them to your stash. It feels a bit like cheating the seasons, laying up jam that will taste of the height of summer even when the days are short and you’re wearing seven layers. My favourite is raspberry and redcurrant jam. The redcurrant gives the jam a lovely tang, a particularly vibrant colour and supplies enough pectin to give you a good set without using preserving sugar or adding liquid pectin. I like to use high quality fruit when I’m making jam. It’s best to use fruit that is just ripe, or even very slightly under—you don’t want any that is already going over. Perfect in a good victoria sponge.
1 kg raspberries
1 kg white granulated or caster sugar
You'll need a big saucepan or jam pan, about 5-8 jam jars depending on size, matching lids and a ladle (and preferably a jam funnel, as it makes life so much easier). Place a saucer in the freezer to test the set with. Sterilise your jars and lids—I put mine through a dishwasher cycle just before I start. Pop the jars and lids onto a tray (to make them easier to move) and place the tray in an oven set at 100C.
Wash the redcurrants, picking through to find any berries that are going off but leaving the stalks. Place a sieve over a mixing bowl. Squash the redcurrants through the sieve in batches, pressing them against the edge of the sieve with a spoon until you just have a seed/skin/stalk paste. You should have 275-300g of redcurrant puree.
Pour the puree into the big pan, followed by the raspberries and sugar. Place over a low heat and stir, crushing some of the raspberries against the side with your spoon, until the sugar crystals have dissolved. Turn the heat up to full and bring to the boil. Once it has started to boil and foam up, let it continue for 3-4 mins, then start testing for the set. To test, dribble a few drops of the jam onto the saucer in the freezer, then leave it in the freezer for roughly 30 seconds to a minute. Push your finger through the jam—if it wrinkles in front of your finger, it’s ready. It usually takes a few tests for it to be ready (with it boiling in the gaps as each test cools). When you’re happy, turn the heat off.
Skim any remaining foam off the jam then let it sit for 15 mins (this means that the seeds will be evenly distributed when it sets). While it cools, the top of the jam often just starts to set, causing a massive version of the wrinkle test if you stir it. Take the jars out of the oven a few minutes before the jam has finished sitting and have them ready next to the pan.
Ladle the jam carefully into the jars (using, if possible, a jam funnel). When done, carefully screw the lids on, holding the hot jar firmly with a tea towel. When you’re sure the lid is on tightly, cover with the tea towel and give the jar a quick, small upwards shake so that the jam coats the sides and lid at the top with a seal of jam. Leave to cool on a tray, enjoying the delightful popping noise as the lids contract over the next few hours.
Recipe: Emma Gardner