Thursday, October 6

Day 8 - must have a triangle

This is an idea we've been working on - glass tea light holders, and look get four triangles into the photo! Should be on the web site soon, just playing about with colours

And yes, for the observant amongst you that is a photo in the background of me and my brother - outside No 10 Downing Street, so even when little was political :)

Damsons! and now lots of jam

The little damson tree in my tiny urban back garden which is only in it's third season decided to go mad this year! It produced over 35lb of fruit, which is fairly impressive given its age and size.

So, down came the jam pan, scales, sugar and off we go - lots and lots of damson jam :)

Found a really simple recipe years ago, which is basically same amount of sugar to fruit - so for every lb of fruit same of sugar.

basic destructions -
you will need to put a plate in the fridge first (honest!)
jam jars and lids that are washed and dried - personally find it best to dry in a warm oven that way you know they're cleaned properly

wash the fruit and remove the stalks, but don't drain too thoroughly and add to a large heavy pan (I was lucky enough years ago to find a preserving pan in a junk shop)
let it simmer so that the fruit starts to break up - and as it's doing that you need to try and catch all the stones out of it; sadly with damsons no easy way so just trial and error as to how you find the best way. I have a strange little dim sum catcher from the Chinese supermarket that I use as a mini sieve and just plod through them.
Once you're happy that you've got all the pips, and the fruit has broken up add the sugar - equal weight of sugar to fruit and stir it all in to dissolve
once it's dissolved, bring to the boil and rapid boil for about 10 minutes - I always put the timer for 8 and test from then on in, no fixed science on time
to test - take your plate out of the fridge (told you you'd need it!) and pour a little of the jam onto it. If it starts to set and you can push it into a shape it's done, be careful it's extremely hot at this stage. May need a little longer, so just keep boiling and testing till you're happy with it.messy bit - pouring into jars! After trying without, I really would advise getting a funnel pourer as it's so much easier but if you haven't just try not to get it everywhere!

as soon as you've filled your jars, seal the lids and let the air create it's own vacuum - add pretty labels if you wish, especially if you're going to give the jam away as presents.

The astute amongst you will have realised that 35lb makes far more jam than shown, you would be correct! So in happy hippo style we also made: damson wine, damson gin and damson vodka!

It may be a very hiccupy Christmas this year, especially as there's no yeast in the wine yet and it's already fermenting like mad!