I love making jam and relishes, I will not lie. This time of year I'm busy, busy, busy with whatever I can find, what I'm given or what I grow. I believe that you can never make enough condiments so every year I make jars and jars of the stuff which is enjoyed by my family and those who are lucky (or unlucky) enough to acquire a jar of this and that. Hey, with the amount of fruit that is around this time of year, who can eat it all fresh, something needs to be done with it before it goes to waste.
My back neighbour has the ugliest shed that backs onto our property and the only good thing about it is that in Summer, blackberries grow all over our fence from their side. Each winter, Roge cuts them back but by January, they're back. I don't want to poison them though as they're a free source of berry!
I don't usually make any jam unless I have at least 1kg of fruit so this lot got put in a freezer bag and frozen until in a few days, I get a few more. However when I make jam I usually go by this principal:
Equal fruit weight to sugar weight ie, 1kg Fruit, 1kg White Sugar, one to two lemons juiced and about half a cup of water.
Stew the fruit and lemon juice together until the fruit is quite soft. Then add the sugar and stir regularly until the jam has set (20-30 minutes). You can test this by putting a plate in the freezer to cool and when you think jam is ready, put a spoonful on the plate. Wait a couple seconds whist the jam cools and then tilt the place. Your jam should only move slightly (not too runny). If you like a firmer jam then you can cook it for longer.
At the shack there was an old fashioned locquat tree which gave us these weird apricot crossed with pears type fruit. I'd never even heard of locquats before Googling them but I came up with a few recipes...one for jam of course which is what I thought I'd tackle for a locquat first timer.
I've also made Greengage plum jam with the neighbours plums, Red Plum jam (the shack has a tree) as well as a couple batches of apricot jam (father in law and neighbours trees).
I was also given some home grown onions by my father in law, Trev. Usually I'd simply cook them up in pastas etc but this year I decided to use 1kg to make some onion marmalade which can be eaten with meats and even cheeses.
I of course referred to my "bible", A Year In A Bottle by author Sally Wise. This is the recipe I used and I have to say, it came up better than I expected:
A splash of olive oil
5 large Brown Onions
3 cups lightly packed Brown Sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 Lemons
3 tbs Dijon Mustard
3/4 cup White Vinegar
1 - Heat butter and oil over a gentle heat in a large pot, add onions and saute until soft.
2 - Add sugar, vinegar, lemon zest and mustard, cook stirring regularly for up to 2 hours until thick (I found that a bit over and hour did the trick).
2 - Pour into warm sterilised jars and seal immediately. Best eaten after 2 weeks so the flavours develop and can be stored/eaten for up to a year.
So as you can see, the pantry is starting to look fairly stocked up and I haven't even made relish, sauce, bottled beetroots yet (they're the usual things I do). I've also got a freezer full of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries which I have to find a project for.
There isn't only value in having a good tasting product, apart from the sugar there's no cost (if you find, grow or get given the fruit) and that's a bonus in my book. It's really easy too which is why I think everybody should get their Martha Stewart on and give it a go!