Rhubarb Jam

April 13, 2011

We are very lucky to have a particulary prolific Rhubarb plant in our garden, inherited when we bought the house, it seems quite happy to be left alone, growing in a mound of concrete hardcore at the bottom of the garden. Each year we give it a shovelful of homemade compost and let it be and very year we have a bumper crop from February right through the summer. It makes a lovely jam, here is how I do it.

I prepare the stalks the night before, washing and cutting them to short 1cm slices (because this rhubarb isn’t forced the stems can be quite thick so I cut them short to account for their large size otherwise). I measure out 1kg of the slices and add some finely grated fresh ginger root (about the size of a thumb), then layer this in my big stock pot (I don’t have a preserving pan), with 900g of granulated sugar and a packet of pectin powder, and over the lot drizzle a small cupful (100ml) of orange juice and leave it all overnight.

In the morning the sugar and the orange juice have dissolved and left a rhubarby syrup. I set about sterilising a few jars, by washing them in hot soapy water and rinsing them with boiling water from the kettle then drying them in a low oven (120 degrees C). All my jars are random recycled ones but this amount seems to make up about 6 standard jam sized jars. Then I add my jam thermometer to the pan of Rhubarb and syrup and get it boiling (jam temp). I boil it for 5 or 6 mins then turn off the  heat. The jars are usually ready now, so I decant the liquid jam into a measuring jug to pour it into the jars. I usually fill half the jars with pretty textured jam, then blitz the last half with my hand blender to make a smooth jam for the kids. Then I add a wax paper disc and a cellophane ‘lid’ held on with an elastic band. – Top tip, dip your cellophane circles in cold water before putting of the jars then as the jam cools they tighten onto the tops for a proper seal.

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Strawberries

June 14, 2010

Martha was pretty keen this year to grow strawberries (after she saw peppa pig do it!).  I have tried to grow them before, but the slugs got them, so this year we bought some cheapy plastic window box type pots from wilko’s to raise them up a bit, and to jolly them up a bit I sprayed them with some leftover plasticote (in an orangy red – not dis-similar to their original colour, but it was all I had knocking about) then Martha and I finger painted the flowers on them with acrylic paint.   To be fair those are mostly my fat fingers, Martha did the middle dots on the flowers and some of the more swirly embellishments.

The late frost this year got the seeds we planted so I cheated and bought plants, but we are the only people I know with a crop this early even the PYOs are not ready yet, but we have had a few handfuls of the ripe ones already and they are delicious. Martha is very proud of her green fingers.