It is blackberry time again when lots of people are tempted to make jam. Making jam is always a good idea and not something to be frightened off.
The most common question I get asked is why a batch of jam went “wrong.”
My answer is always pretty much the same. Unless you wandered off, forgot your jam and came back to a blackened, burnt, solid lump of jam toffee (and a tricky washing up task) then your jam probably did not go wrong.
For every "mistake" there is a perfectly good classification of preserve to rescue the day. Just make sure that when you venture into the kitchen feeling like a domestic goddess ready to take on the world that you don't actually announce that you are going to make jam. Tell them you are preserving and once you have finished and are admiring the fruits of your labour, decide what it is you have made.
A conserve is runny jam, often described as loose set with larger pieces of fruit.
If your jam doesn’t set over night, bung the jars in the freezer where they will keep pretty much for years. When you need one, take it out and serve your loose set, conserve with pride drizzled over scones and cream. So much easier than trying to spread a set jam over your cream tea.
If it is really runny then whizz it up in the blender and pour your artisan coolie over vanilla ice cream for a divine dessert. The colours are simply stunning and if you heat the coolie as well the taste is amazing.
If you are feeling very adventurous then you could gently fry and onion, add a splash of vinegar and some your very runny jam and whizz in the processor to make an interesting sauce for meat.
If, when you open you jar of jam, you find that it has set quite hard and is difficult to spread the you have made a butter. Fruit butters sometimes contain actual butter but not always. They tend to have smaller pieces of fruit so make an issue of wanting to better mix the flavours. These would make a good filling for jam tarts or baked puddings.
If you need a knife to release your jam from the jar then congratulations, you have made a fruit cheese. Carefully cut the jam out of the jar in a neat cylinder and slice thinly. Serve the sliced preserve with British cheeses and a range of crackers for a top notch cheese board.