Mel is a rogue agent in the kitchen and it can be hypnotic to watch her flutter around the stove adding pinches of this and sprinkles of that.
So, one late summer afternoon I arrived at ‘Chez Lez’ to find Mel cooking a sticky sweet jam concoction for which I inevitably asked after the recipe. It was denied. This was when Caroline declared that Mel was a guerrilla jam maker, throwing caution, and recipe, to the wind and just throwing whatever ingredients she had to hand in.
Now whenever I make jam, I think of this.
Guerrilla jam can be easy and fun to make as long as you remember these three things.
Pectin, sugar and acid.
Most fruit contains pectin which helps the jam set, some fruits have more pectin than other fruit; the fruits that are all low in pectin are: pears, peaches, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, sweet plums, blueberries & elderberries. Whereas the fruits that are high in pectin are: apples, gooseberries, blackcurrants, sour plums & grapes.
You can buy sugar with added pectin from most big supermarkets or online.
As a general rule 50/50 fruit to sugar when making jam but you can experiment, just remember you do need some sugar. Sugar helps draw the water away from the pectins in the fruit which help it set, it’s also what preserves the jam so the more sugar the longer it’ll last.
One last thing to keep in mind is acid, acid helps it set. You can add a little citric acid with a squeeze of a lemon.
So a rough guerrilla recipe would be:
1kg sugar with pectin
Juice of ½ a lemon
Now you can pimp your jam up!
I always have a jar of vanilla sugar in the cupboard (where else are you going to put your spent vanilla pods?) I love to use this to add an extra dimension to a plumb jam.
Sometimes I might throw a few dried hibiscus flowers into the bubbling strawberries and fish them out at the end.
1 splash (or 2) of Pimm’s or whisky adds a more ‘grown up’ taste to soft fruit jams.
Fresh elderflowers would add a lovely lift to a gooseberry jam.
Spices such as cinnamon can also add a beautifully festive flavour.
But sometimes you just can’t beat a pure no nonsense jam.
You could always have a Ruby Berry porridge to get your jam inspiration going. As always I’d love to see your jam adventures, send us some photos on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
Until next time x