Strawberry conserve

Jam jam jam jam jam jam jam jam jam (to the tune of Monty Python’s spam song)

I love making jam! I do it whenever I have a couple of days free (it always takes a couple of days!) My mum bought me a book a couple of years ago called Traditional Jams and Preserves by Eve Parker. Whenever I have an excess of fruit or see one in our local grocers I can’t resist making jam, conserve or jelly. Last year I bought a tray of apricots for less than £3 and made lots of jam.

Now you’d think that after making jams and jellies for a few years that I wouldn’t need the book but not only is it a great reference tool, it also has great ideas that are on my ‘to try’ list such as Sweet Chilli Jam, Spicy Indian Chutney and Peach and Orange Marmalade plus there are recipes for relishes and ketchups which I’ve yet to venture in to. Also, because each fruit has a different level of pectin (which is what makes the jam set) they need different combinations of fruit and treating slightly differently to get them to set.

Last year I wanted to make Frank something special for our anniversary. He loves, and I mean LOVES strawberry jam. So I looked up the recipes and discovered this magical, if time consuming, recipes within the book. There is no water used at all which I found fascinating. Instead the strawberries are encouraged to give up their juice by being soaked in sugar for a couple of days.

Parker explains that conserves differ from jam in that they have larger pieces of fruit and the sugar is used to draw out the natural liquid of the fruit as opposed to adding water.

On that occasion I just made one jar of the strawberry conserve for Frank and it had a wonderful scarlet colour. I’d wanted to make more for ages. Then, by chance, a couple of weeks ago the grocers had a deal on strawberries- a whole tray for just £1.50! How could I resist the jam making possibilities! After I’d made marmalade with the kids last year (yes, recipe form the same book) Merida wanted to join in and strawberries are easy to cut so I was comfortable with her help. She became in charge of the preparation: cutting the strawberries. She stopped after a while as there were a lot of strawberries ….although I think it was after she was full as I’m sure I saw more than one strawberry pop on her mouth.

Then the wait for a couple of days as the strawberries brought out their own juice. Then the boiling and jarring. Oh the smell was wonderful. And the colours, just look at those colours and how the it changes.

This morning we’re going to try the conserve on some of Frank’s amazing pancakes. The perfect start to a Sunday. ????