Monday, January 10, 2011

Jam Jam Jam

Any jam making day needs to get off to a good start with croissants and a pretentiously small strong coffee. Also if it happens to be your first jam making day ever in your life, then its advisable to invite your experienced jam-making mum to help with the endeavor and also to drag you out of bed at 11am if required.

At a whopping 2.763 kilos, here is the majority of this years apricot crop. Apparently its advisable to have slightly under-ripe fruit for jam but when your tree only produces a small crop and ripens each individual fruit as it damn well pleases this is difficult to achieve. Only a temporary problem.

And here they are stored in a disturbingly regimented and anal fashion awaiting their sugary fate. I kept them for two days in the fridge in air tight zip-lock bags to stifle their ripening.

The night before the jam making I quartered 1.5kg of the apricots taking extra care to remove the little hard bit up the top where the fruit connects to the tree.

The fruit spends the night steeped in sugar. Technically to steep means to soak a dry thing in a wet thing for a period of time and here its a wet thing soaking in a dry thing, but failing the existence of a better word to steep it did.

We were well prepared to deal deal with the simplest recipe in terms of ingredients with the exception of two minute noodles. Jam is all about technique and process though and it would be easy to stuff it up without the right advice.

Here is the jam making process as it goes through it's various frothings and convulsions. It starts out looking a bit like stewed apricots followed by a swelling foaming mess and then finally it calms down to a bubbling scalding lava-like state. As the lava stakes shape the jam is continuously tested on a chilled plate standing in the fridge for a couple of minutes to test its consistency.

At the end of the heating process a small amount of remaining froth needs to be skimmed off and you get to notice that even after all its writhing and bubbling the quarter sized chunks of apricot have held their own and will be entombed whole in the finial product. I thought they'd melt down, i was wrong.

Jam jar filling is messy business, the jars have been pre-heated to avoid inadvertent voilent explosions.

The deed is done, the jam is finished. It's a seriously thick consistency which I attribute to apricot's naturally high pectin content and also to my naive insistence to cook the jam till it almost solidified in the saucepan. The flavor is superb, it starts out intensely sweet which gives way to burst of tartness and then you wake up on the floor several hours later. All due credit and thanks goes to my wonderful mum for passing down her jam making skills.

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