Midsummer jam

Categories: Product of the week

A delicious, natural, homemade preserve that’s chock-full of summer fruit

“It’s very simple. There are no additions: no additives, no preservatives, no pectin. To set it, we rely on the natural acid and pectin that occur in the fruit,” says Elspeth Biltoft of Rosebud Preserves. It’s true of their Midsummer jam and it’s true of all their products; there’s nothing to see here but delicious, natural, homemade preserves, chock-full of fruit—in this instance, a muddle of strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants.

If we were to tell you it tastes like concentrated summer, what your mind’s eye conjures wouldn’t be far off. “It’s made with all of the traditional British summer fruits—in fact, some people call it summer pudding jam, because that’s exactly what it tastes like,” Elspeth continues. “We use different proportions of fruit depending on what creates the best balance—if the blackcurrants are particularly sharp, say, then we might add a bit more strawberry.”

It’s made in Rosebud Preserves’ north Yorkshire kitchens, first by soaking the blackcurrants and redcurrants in warm water until soft—“They’re classed as soft fruits, but in fact they need to be soaked first or the skins become a little tough”—then adding the rest of the fruit and some unrefined cane sugar. “We leave it on a low temperature until it’s thoroughly dissolved, then we turn the heat up and boil it,” she explains. “We’ve got to be careful because the blackcurrants and redcurrants have so much natural pectin, it can cause it to overset. We like it so it’s just soft enough, but not so that it runs off your toast.”

Sweet and sharp
The resulting jam is satisfyingly thick with fruit, yet pleasingly gloopy. It’s sweet and sharp by turns, one bite delivering a saccharine burst of strawberry, the next that familiarly deep, sticky taste of blackcurrants—not the artificial soft drink flavour of childhood, but rather that of berries plucked and eaten straight from the bush, that stain your top and pepper your teeth with seeds. Indeed, unashamedly spooning it from the jar as we did, you’re at risk of both.

It’s better yet sandwiched in sponges, dolloped on porridge, or simply stirred into yoghurt—but the nicest way to eat it, says Elspeth, is on scones “with thick Cornish clotted cream,” she swoons. “In summertime, it’s the absolute best.”

Read Luke Mackay’s recipe for Midsummer bakewell tart