Way back when I started working for myself I started with jams. I had two small children who needed me to stop working split shifts, a husband who worked more than I did, and something had to give. In the end it was me, I gave up my head chef’s job and became a stay at home mum. But I couldn’t settle, I had to cook, so I started Convalita Farmhouse Foods, and because I had very limited fridge space, I started with something that was shelf stable. Preserves.
This is a jam I have been making for about ten years, it is a lovely jam, quite delicate and it has been a really good seller because people just love it.
Before we start with our jam I would like you to go in and have a look at the blog on how to prepare your jars and lids. There are a lot of ways to do it, I have seen some really good ways and some ways that are not so good. So, go have a quick look at that for me and then we can begin.
Ready? Okay, and so Pear and Lavender Jam.
This will give you about 7 x 150ml jars
750g pear, peeled, quartered, cored, finely chopped
250g apple, peeled, quartered, cored, finely chopped
80ml lemon juice
1 heaped tablespoon fresh, chopped lavender
First, prep your jars and lids and the jug you will use to pour the jam into the jars, I use an oven proof Pyrex jug that holds only a litre, you don’t want to be handling more hot jam than that at a time, it is too hot and dangerous, go with the litre jug and only fill it half way full. Put the jug on the tray with your jars while they are sterilising in the oven so it gets a sterilise too.
Pop the fruit, lavender, water and lemon juice into a medium large pot, don’t be tempted to use a small pot, all jams spit and pear jams spit more than most. Simmer until everything is very tender, stir in your sugar with a long handled wooden spoon, stir until that is all dissolved and then turn up the heat and boil like billyo, stirring very often until it reaches setting point.
So, setting point, how can you tell? Well, jams can be tricky things, you don’t want to pull them off too soon, if they still have too much moisture in them they will mould, if you cook them too long they will be stiff and very sweet, which is better than mouldy, but let’s see if we can show you the sweet spot.
This jam is in the middle of its boiling like billyo, see all that white foam? The jam does not want that, it is pushing out any impurities it can find, we don’t want that either, if the jam says it is an impurity then we believe it, impurities make mould, so we use our wooden spoon and we skim as much of that off as we can while it is cooking. Jam that has a lot of moisture in it will boil like this, as the moisture cooks out the jam will become more sluggish, but much more dangerous, I cannot stress enough the need for long sleeves and eye protection here, jam boils at over 100 degrees and a jam burn in the eyeball is something you will never forget, wear safety glasses! Please!
This is looking a bit more promising, see how it is thicker and the boiling is not so furious? It is still on full heat, it is just struggling under its own weight. When we stir it, if it is ready it will fall from the spoon in a sheet rather than a dribbley glob. Pear jams can be a bit tricky, we want it fairly thick before we jar it up. It is still a bit too wet here, keep giving it a stir, dodging the vitriolic volcanic spits it throws at you.
Now we’re getting somewhere, this is looking better, a nice homogenous looking mix. Scoop out a spoonful, pop it on a saucer and pop it into the freezer for a minute, we are going to do a wrinkle test. Meanwhile, keep stirring that jam! Not constantly, but very frequently, we do not want it to scorch on the bottom, or build up a great versuvious like pocket of heat to bite you with next time you touch it with a spoon.
Nice. See how that is wrinkling against my finger when I give it a push? That is going to set like house bricks, lovely.
Okay, remove it from the heat, give it one final good stir and pull your jars out of the oven. Pour the jam into your hot jug and then use your jug to fill your hot jars, be very careful, this is very hot stuff, don’t try to be a hero, hot and heavy are a bad combination, just take your time, do a couple at a time. When your jars are full, put the lid on, twist it on tight then turn your jar upside down and then back the right way, set aside to cool. I alway invert it as it stops steam building up on the inside of the lid, remember how we boiled all the water out of the jam so it doesn’t make mould? Steam is water and will make mould, inverting the jar AFTER YOU HAVE TIGHTENED THE LID, will help prevent this.
Pear and Lavender Jam, just like Michelle makes. Enjoy.