With confidence I will say that making Jams is not a disappearing culinary Art; even if we tend to rely nowadays on Supermarket Jams by lack of time or perhaps of lack of know how to do them. However a lot do remember a Grandmother's Jam, a Mother's one or a traditional or familial recipe for Jam passed down the line with some nostalgy.
Strawberry and Raspberry Jam.
One may also have a souvenir of a pot or many of Jams being put away on the very top of a cupboard safely from the greedy appetite of a child or us who would just spoon the content of the jar. In my memory, my Mum used to make Jams, only a couple of types and it was very much so Seasonal. In the Spring she would make a Rhubarb Jam and in Autumn she would do a dozen of jars of Blackberry Jam.
If the Rhubarb one was made with fresh Rhubarbs bought in the weekly Market, the Blackberry Jam was made from the Berries collected during our long promenade when did forage in Autumn. In my opinion the Blackberry Jam was the best out of the two.
Blackberries: I miss the time when we were foraging for them in my Childhood.
If we speak about Seasonality we could easily pick a few Jams which could represent the Seasons. We spoke about Spring and Rhubarb Jam but if we mention Summer the amount of Fruits available to do Jam is greater starting by Strawberries, Redcurrants, Blackcurrants, Gooseberries, Blueberries. Late Summer, start of Autumn will see the Raspberries showing up (being mature) along with the Blackberries, Plums, Apricots, Peaches, Quinces.
A late September Harvest of Redcurrants and Raspberries of my Garden.
In Winter however Citrus Fruits like Oranges, Lemons, Mandarins, Satsumas, Tangarins, Grapefruits, Limes are mainly used to make Jams of a Marmalade type. So all in all there is a perfect Jam for every Season if we do respect Seasonality, but nowadays we can probably have everything all year round in supermarkets. But nostalgic or not, myself I do prefer the good old ways.
Home Made Marmalade: With Oranges, Stem Ginger and Grand Marnier.
My natural taste or preferences for Jams has always been to go for Blackcurrant ones, the Wild Blueberries ones and the Apricot ones. I can not tell you enough how much I love Apricot Jam. There is an area in France which produces Apricots in great quantity because they have the perfect weather to do so. The Apricot of the Roussillon is considered one of the best for its taste. The Apricot Jams coming from there are done following a long lasting tradition which includes Kernels or Almonds in their Jam Jars.
Apricot Jam with Kernels and Zest.
Although I watched my Mother making Jams, I didn't do some myself until later in my life. In one of the shared Houses I did live, there was a Garden which I had the freedom to use, in the middle of it was this gorgeous Plum Tree, which gave an abundance of Plums. I never wanted to waste those Plums, I ate plenty but I turned lots into Jams and Chutneys. This as per say gave me the bug to carry on and learn more about Jam making but also how to do Chutneys.
Home Made Plum and Cinnamon Jam.
I must confess that there is something comforting in making your own Jams but also in enjoying them. It was not long after making my first Jam that I bought books about them: a couple of old books in a Charity Shop, and one in a Library. As I read them there were so many Jams I wanted to try to make. Of course I did get properly kitted out for all my trials. It is when you start to think that you caught the bug of making Jam... when you buy a Jam probe to make sure your concoction is at the right temperature in order to set properly.
Trying to make a Marmalade for the first time and messing it up completely: Boiled over. This is why it is important to have the proper equipement to do Jams.
However we learn also by our own mistakes: it is the Grand School of Errors. If we look about it Eton gave us a lot of corrupt politicians which are very soft upon admitting their own mistakes, killing people by their greed and brushing their shoulders off about it all. Therefore an over boiled Marmalade doesn't sound as bad as trying to steel money from tax payers at the sum of £90 000 to refurbish one historic room in a horrible style, and trying to rectify the deed when it is only being caught. Enough about politics and let us return about Jam.
Ingredients for a Marmalade with a Twist which was very very nice, but also which was not my very first Marmalade this time around...
When you are confident you can play with your ingredients and see how it will work out at the end of the day: it can be a miss or a superb call. Sometimes it takes inspiration from what you do know are perfect combination or learn to know that one ingredient does work well with another. During a trip to Hampton Court Palace for the Flower Show, I visited the little shop for tourists and visitors for them to remember that they have been there: The Souvenir object, the memorabilia. For me it was a mock Tudor Hour Glass but also a Strawberry Jam with Champagne...
Champagne Time! Always a celebration.
This was an inspiration because the combination worked but not only that it inspired me because why a Strawberry Jam has to be just a Strawberry Jam? This opened the door to many experiments in the Kitchen I can tell you that. I would say that my Marmalade with Oranges, Limes and Grand Marnier was quite a success. Therefore I will add: just be adventurous while making Jam.
Last but not least when you do make a bounty of Jam Jars don't forget to share them with your Family, Friends and Neighbours for it is sharing the love.
Part lovely Fruits, part Sugar, Jams are a sweet Treat to enjoy. (The ratios between the two are roughly 1 Kilo of Fruits to 1.5 or 2 Kilo of Sugar).