Back in London, Second half August 2020

Back in London, meant grocery shopping. I’m completely Off the idea. Hello, Online, here I come again.

Firstly, Watts Farm, and I am in love with Watts Farm. Apart from going to a Farm shop, where else do you find, home grown Baby Gem lettuce with soil on ? And nowadays, all the fruit ( and vegetables) sold in the supermarket fits into the supermarkets set criteria, carrots of a certain length, tomatoes a certain size, no wonky apples or potatoes. So what did I find on the Watts Web site, basically windfall apricots! Joy oh Joy.

Why the Joy? I always make Jam whilst in France in the summer, but this year I failed miserably, due in part to having my three eldest grandkids and parents with us for 5 wonderful weeks. We lived in our remote family bubble and it was fun.

Why do I have to make Apricot Jam?

Well, historically soon after we were married ( like the next week) Himself decamped to work in Germany and I flew off to Hong Kong and various other places. Breakfast in his hotel consisted of Brötchen ( lovely bread rolls) along with Apricot Jam. Fast forward 3 years and He is now with a different company and is working in France and staying in the company hotel, in the wilds of Normandy. Days long before internet, days long before self dial on a telephone, I tried telephoning , via the operator. Unfortunately I did not have a telephone number, but I did have the name of the hotel, or so I thought. Operator, please connect me to the Hotel, Les Célibataires, the Bachelors. No such hotel I am told. No, the hotel was actually called, Hôtel de la Petit Campagne, but called otherwise, because the only people allowed to stay there, were the young ( male) engineers. And guess what was for breakfast? Apricot Jam this time with baguette and croissants. The rule regarding who could stay there, changed soon after, when I stayed there as well, along with two small daughters! I remember one Christmas party held at the hotel. I was very pregnant and then it was acceptable to drink, as the waiters constantly filled my glass, with the words ” Pour Le Bébé. The hotel no longer exist !

So, I had almost two kilos of the equivalent of Windfall apricots and therefore it was Jam making time.

Jam is very easy to make, just a couple of things to watch. Jam sets at 220 F, 104C.

Don’t think that you can turn the heat up high and in no time at all it will be at the right temperature, because it won’t and in the meantime you will have a burnt on mess in the bottom of your pan. A cooking thermometer is a good investment.

Basically for most fruits it is equal quantities of fruit and sugar. Again it is possible to buy preserving sugar as this has added pectin to help the jam set more easily. Some fruits contain enough pectin naturally whilst others , like strawberries need a little help, usually in the form of added lemon juice.

Wash clean and destone the fruit. Put in a sturdy pan along with the sugar, juice ( and zest if wanted ) of one or two lemons or limes. Bring to the boil slowly and let it bubble away , stirring from time to time, until the correct temperature is reached. Using a thermometer, takes away any guess work. Remove from the heat and add about 2 Oz of butter, this will get rid of any foam that might have formed.

Meanwhile you will have sterilised your jars. Using a microwave overnight is a good way to do this. Half fill one jar with water , put in a microwave on high and let the water in the jar come to the boil. Remove, being careful and tip out the water and drain the jar on paper towel, leave upside down until ready to use. For the lids, put into a bowl and cover them with boiling water until ready to use.

Making sure the jars are clean and dry, ladle the jam into the jars and seal immediately with the dry lids, wipe off any spillage and leave to cool. When cool clean the outside of the jars, label and store!So if you fancy giving it a go, combined with a walk in the countryside, go blackberrying, and make some Bramble Jam, good luck !

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