One of my favourite quotes is "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are" which comes from Theodore Roosevelt. I just love it.
Well currently I can make things, from apricots, in my kitchen.
Right now I have enough apricots to not need to buy fruit for some time for fresh fruit plus enough to stew, make jam and pies. So each day I do something so nothing goes too soft and is wasted. Next I need to do the same with nectarines but they are not quite ripe. Then I have quite a few peaches coming from a neighbours tree.
Jam makes a nice gift too. It's amazing who likes homemade jam. Once on face book I said I was making jam. Someone replied to me that he would give me whiting from his fishing trip in exchange for some he was so keen for some homemade jam. Deal!
Another time we had problems with our air conditioner. We were desperate and called a service guy and it was going to be very expensive. When he arrived I was making this jam. He said "you make your own jam!" then starts telling me all about his mum and her cooking and his partner who he said was probably laying on the lounge about now watching tv. He adored and admired his Mum and seemed like he was wondering how to get rid of his partner! Anyway I always make tradesmen coffee etc and later I said to him he could take a couple of jars of jam too. When it came time to pay I offered to pay cash (as I always do) and between that and the jam he dropped the bill from $300 to $100. He gave me his card and we have called him since for air conditioner services and problems. The first time I called him I said "I am the lady who was making jam" and he says "Annabel!" Truly sometimes life amazes me.
So here is the jam that will give you great gifts, supplies, trades and discounts, apparently.
In a lage microwave safe bowl put about a kilo of your fruit seeds removed.
I don't weigh. No scales. I use a bowl that I guess takes about a kilo and simply pile that with fruit...
You can have some under ripe fruit as long as you have some really ripe fruit. Put that in your big bowl then pour over about 700 or 800 grams of sugar. I use less sugar than fruit. I guess and under fill the same bowl I overfilled with fruit.
Add the juice of at least half a lemon. This helps your jam to set.
Do not cover the bowl. Put it in the microwave on high for 10 minutes. Stir. Re microwave for another 10 minutes.
Now I use a stick blender to gently blitz the hot jam. You need to be so careful not to splatter hot jam! I would not even make jam with kids in the kitchen. Instead you could use a potato masher or fork.... something to squish up your bubbling soft fruit.
Then microwave again 10 mins. Now you need to test it. If it is rising up in the dish and threatening to boil over it is probably done. Take a small amount on a teaspoon and let it cool. If it is still runny when cool do another ten minutes. If it holds a space when you press your finger into it then it is set.
From the second ten minute session keep an eye on it. The first time you do this notice the times because each microwave is different, your measurements may be different. Once you know you will know for all your next batches how many minutes you need. So your first batch is an experiment and after that you will know your perfect times. For a fist batch use a little less than a kilo I think and see how it goes. Smaller amounts are quicker and easier, larger takes longer. Mostly when it threatens to boil up and over you have reached setting point.
Pour into sterilised jars. I top with cellophane tops straight away.
Every now and then all jam makers have a batch that doesn't set. You can re cook it or you can keep it in the fridge and warm it to use over pancakes or as a glaze on a cake or meat ie apricot jam glaze over a ham or chicken pieces. I remember both Nan and Mum having batches of jam that wouldn't set. It has only happened to me once or twice. Set jam should keep in the pantry for a year or more.
I quite often give food hamper gifts. So these jars of jam with become a part of a gift. Otherwise these are my years supply of jams. And then my years supply of stewed fruit and pies as well.
This method works for any fruit. You can combine fruits too. The best ever was when I had pears and peaches and blended them. It was pink and delicious.
Strawberry is the prettiest colour. Last year I did other berries and the colours were like jewels.
I keep jars all year round. Wash them and place them in a cold oven. Turn the oven on and let it heat up then turn it off and when cool you have sterilised jars. That is the easiest way I think.
I do chutney and relish the same way. No worries about jam catching on the bottom of a big pot on the stove and hours of stirring. Also cheaper electricity wise.
When you are done there is nothing sweeter than seeing all your jars lined up looking pretty. It is really very easy. During the year, especially winter, I will make a batch of scones and put out two or three types of jam I've made and have afternoon tea with someone. Somehow this simplicity is always a smash hit. In fact as a gift a basket of fresh scones and a jar of your jam would be a lovely mothers day gift, gift for a man you don't know what to give, house warming gift... anything!
Now I am craving scones. But I actually have to go pick the very last of the apricots as I see the birds have eaten a couple this morning. They can have a few but thats it, it is time to bring in the remaining fruit!