Incredible Edible Cloughmills in Northern Ireland share some useful tips to help you perfect the homely skill of making jam.
- 3kg damsons
- 1.5 litres water
- 2.5kg sugar – you can use granulated or jam making sugar
- Large steel saucepan or jam pan
- Potato masher
- Jam pots
- Wax lid covers
In late October, go out foraging and collect 3kg of damsons from fields, gardens or hedgerows near you. We’ll be using it in our Damson jam recipe.
Once the fruit is collected, remove stalks and leaves and wash, then either place in freezer bags for later use or get ready to make your jam.
Put the fruit in the pan with 1.5 litres of cold water. Bring to the boil and carefully crush with a potato masher and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Mash the fruit to get the flavour and encourage the pectin to react. Of course, it also helps remove the damson stones.
Add 2.5kg of sugar while stirring continuously until the sugar is dissolved.
Boil the liquid for 35 minutes during which time you can mash and watch the stones come to the surface and then remove them.
Some jam making recipes will advise you to skim off the foam because isn’t as nice. It is full of air which some say causes the jam to go off a little quicker; but all you need to do is stir in 1 teaspoon of butter, margarine or vegetable oil and this will solve the issue and minimise waste.
When happy with your set, allow it to cool before carefully potting into sterilised jam jars.
The method of testing for a good set is to place several dishes in the fridge to chill and at regular intervals take a half teaspoon of the liquid and pour it onto the edge of the chilled dish. When the jam is ‘about right’ the liquid will quickly become quite viscous, sticking to the side of the dish and producing a soft skin that will wrinkle when gently touched with another spoon.
Once potted, cover the surface of the jam in the jar with a wax disc. This helps prevent mould forming during storage. Seal the jar with a tight-fitting lid or cellophane disc secured with an elastic band. Store in a cool, preferably dark place. Only store in the refrigerator once opened.
You can replace the damsons with other fruit (try to go seasonal for the best result) but remember, softer fruits tend to be lower in the thickening agent (pectin) so add a few harder fruits to get the right consistency. If you make too much why not hand some out to your neighbours as they make a great gift!