HURRICANE KATIE BLEW AROUND the house yesterday and wafted off, leaving all my lovely apples still happily on their trees. This autumn, like the last, is giving us a bounty of apples, pears, plums and damsons with hedgerows groaning with blackberries and bullens.
The River Cottage Handbook No2 with Pam Corbin (available from Booka Bookshop and Oswestry Library) is a great introduction to the alchemic arts of bottling, jamming and preserving and, I think, has been responsible for the run on Jam Jars and jampot covers at Upstairs Downstairs this year.
I used to be daunted by jam making - jams never reaching setting point or setting to the consistency of rubber, but this book (and the ever trusty Saint Delia) have helped me become more relaxed about the process - which I think is important - while you don't need to be slaving over a hot stove - it does help you (and maybe the jam) if you give yourself up to the experience and make a day of it. Don't rush, put the radio on, shut the kitchen door and embrace your inner Yummy Mummy. Most of all, it helps to follow the instructions closely - especially in making sure the jam jars and tops are sterilised - an afternoon spent making Pear and Lemon Jelly, or Elderberry and Apple Jam is a heady experience wasted if, when you come to open the jar - you find you've cultivated mould!
You can make jams and jellies from pretty much anything - even if you have no fruit trees yourself. Neighbours and work colleagues maybe more than happy to offload a barrel of damsons or windfalls on you - many public places have crab apples or apple trees, and there are the hedgerows and parks. Always remember though, where relevant, to ask permission to pick and take only what you need and leave plenty for other foragers and more especially birds and mammals.
Upstairs Downstairs has a wide selection of jam making apparel - preserving pans, thermometers, jars and labels.
If all this is too much - fill up on jams, jellies and fantastic preserves at the Oswestry County Market at the Memorial Hall on Wednesday's.
Member since: 11th June 2012
Charmed to my boots by Oswestry and the Welsh Marches. I happily do my best to support the fantastic independent shops and businesses in the area through The Best of Oswestry.