Monday, 14 September 2009

Jam packed

From mid August to the beginning of September my house alternates between smelling of boiling fruit and sugar to the acrid pong of hot vinegar. Yes, it's jam and chutney season. As soon as the fruit trees start producing I'm like a blur in my kitchen. Everything seems to come at once and with fruit you need to turn it into jam as soon as it's picked as that's when the pectin levels are at their greatest which means the difference between jam that you spread and jam that you pour. Add to this, the end of the courgettes and tomatoes ripening by the minute it's been manic.

This year I've been very lucky as a couple of friends have given me bucket loads of plums and pears. Plums are wonderful and very versatile, they make fantastic jam and chutney. The rest of the fruit I've either picked or bought. Over at the farm I managed to pick loads of blackberries and was given some damsons, and from a local orchard I bought Bramleys and greengages.

Unfortunately, as you can imagine all of this fruit attracts those evil little critters in brown and yellow jumpers. I have therefore become very skilled in thwacking them with an oven glove. The score currently stands at Ample Cook 17 - Wasps nil (ha ha!)

Damsons & greengages

The fruits of my labour

(actually this is the tip of the iceberg)

I know you can buy good quality jams and chutneys these days, but I promise you, nothing tastes like homemade. Just 1 lb of fruit and the same quantity of sugar will make a couple of jars of jam and takes very little time and effort to do. Chutney made now will be ready to eat at Christmas, making a really thoughtful gift.
Go on, give it a go.


  1. Wow Jan! Bet your larder is heaving at the moment. Must be very satisfying. My new house has a cherry tree so next year may be the year of the jam in the GF household.

    My folks make their own wine so the few days where all the grapes turn up prior to pressing you can't go outside for all the wasps! Never tried the oven glove trick though :)

  2. Jan - blimey, I had no idea you were so industrious in the kitchen. Amazing - and also incredibly jealous that you get to eat all of that!

    Talking about making chutney etc, I was given a load of plums about a month ago - being a bit busy at the time, I froze them. Would they still be ok to make some kind of chutney with do you think? or would the freezing process have ruined them for this?

  3. Fran - Must admit storage is always a problem. God I can't imagine how bad the wasps must get at your parents' house! Worth it though I bet:o)

    Dan - No problem with the plums, they will just be a bit more squishy when you defrost them. If you would like a chutney recipe, just email me. Good luck!

  4. I am mightily impressed. The kids moan like hell when I make chutneys - I'm just about to embark on Picallili so they had better beware!! I have also frozen a load of plums - some kind soul was giving them away when we went to the Sculpture park - so I had to have them!! You should have seen how may wasps hubby caught in his wasp traps !!

  5. What a gorgeous, glorious glut... And the wasps were a big prob with my mother's plum tree - she had hornets too which freaked me out slightly!

  6. I think you must be jam chutney and pickles queen with all that lot. Looks absolutely delicious.