This afternoon, I decided to use up some raspberries by making a batch of jam. Everywhere I looked, it said raspberry jam was ideal for the amatuer jam maker as sets quickly and is really easy. Perfect!
Following my last jam making episode, where I failed to make it pass the wrinkle test after 2 hours but somehow caramelised it, I decided to buy some ‘proper’ pectin in pouches rather than use lemon juice.
It all seemed to be going swimmingly, the berries softened beautifully, the sugar dissolved without a fuss and the boiling up process was lovely and quick. Then after the recommended 4 minutes I did the dreaded wrinkle test. It failed, so I boiled it some more.
The next test wrinkled, but also produced some very odd looking gelatinous lumps. Once it was cool enough, I tasted it. It had a very sweet taste, but a most bizarre texture. The lumps turned out to be undissolved pectin, and had a horrid ‘chew’ to them.
Now what? I had jam at setting point, but with weird added lumps. Did I sieve it to get rid of them? Time was of the essence, so I thought ‘stuff it’ and went for the ostrich approach, buried my head in the sand and put it in the jars anyway. The jam at the bottom of the pan was especially lumpy, so I did sieve that. It made me glad I didn’t attempt it with the rest-there was jam everywhere except the jar!
I later confessed to Mr C that I had turned 1kg of perfectly good raspberries into 3 jars of chewable jam, and he reassured me it was ok and that we could just make jam tarts with it! (He hasn’t tasted any yet, we’ll see what the official verdict is when he has tried it.)
My future jam batches will stick to traditional lemon juice to help them set. However, my dreams of entering 15 categories in the craft tent at the village show to gain free entry (and save paying £15 just so I can help in the Scouts tea tent on behalf of my son) are shattered. No way can I inflict this on anyone outside of the immediate family!
Anyway, if you have similar tales of culinary disasters, please share and make me feel less alone in my ability to mess up a recipe labelled as ‘simple’.