Clare Teal: Sharing her love of a different type of jamming

The plum trees are laden and the grapes are ripening on the vine that means my friends it's jam making time.

We have recently invested in a proper jam thermometer (not made out of actual jam as I had first thought) prior to this we used a meat thermometer (again not made out of actual meat) which, before it melted was like a metal skewer with a little plastic box at the end, ideal for sticking into lumps of chicken but not so easy to read the digital display in a steamy pan, also a bit treacherous trying to hold it still without molten fruit splashing onto your skin.

There is another reason… I’m sure Muddy won’t mind me telling you this, but I heard on the afore mentioned grapevine, which incidentally grows in an Alan the dog free zone, that a couple of years ago, in a bid not to waste the lovely little black grapes that had all ripened at the same time as they invariably do, Mud decided to harvest them and make some delicious grape jelly.

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With rows of carefully washed and dried jam jars lining the kitchen counters, it’s into the Maslin pan with the bucket of grapes, cook for a bit, squash them down with the spud masher, sieve the mixture through a muslin cloth and you’re left with the juice. Add a load of sugar, pectin and lemon juice and get boiling, skimming the scum as you go.

Here’s the thing it says in the recipe that you need to get the temperature up to 105ºC, but somewhere along the way our poor meat thermometer, throws a hissy and refuses to budge any higher than 85º. But poor Muddy doesn’t realise so perseveres until such a time as she thinks ‘blow this, it must be ready’ (or words to that effect). She turns the heat off, picks up the massive pan and proceeds to pour the jelly into the waiting jars.

She fills the first and almost a third of the second before running out of gloop.

The texture of said jelly was somewhat dense, it was also quite tricky to spread, seeming to return to it’s original shape regardless of any vigorous pressure applied and to say the taste was somewhat concentrated would be an understatement, but I thought it was great and can’t wait for this year’s batch of jazz jam.