Fruit cup jam

The inspiration for this summer fruit jam comes from the quintessential English summer drink Pimms. Mrs Richinflavour is mighty partial to a glass or three, no matter what the season is and in her own words “with or without the salad”.

Whilst she was pregnant one of our friends found a recipe for a non-alcoholic drink that almost mimicked that distinctive Pimms flavour. Evidently it wasn’t Pimms but it got me thinking about creating a jam that reflected those summer flavours. There was one ingredient that stood out in our friend’s recipe for virgin Pimms – balsamic vinegar.

Ingredients

Preferably a large saucepan full of apples from the tree or a hedgerow – or a litre of pure apple juice
1 orange
1 lemon
300g strawberries
300g cucumber
1200g granulated sugar
100ml balsamic vinegar

You’ll need a 2 tier steamer to help with creating the apple juice base and if possible a jam thermometer (but no worries if not).

Preparing the apples

  1. Chop the apples into halves and then quarter – core, pips and all. Chuck them into a saucepan which is about a third full of cold water and gently simmer for approx 25 minutes. DO NOT STIR as it becomes harder to get the juice from the apples.
  2. Leave to cool slightly and then drain the juice off with a muslin cloth. I use a two stack steamer for this process as it’s the cleanest most compact method I have thought of.
  3. Place a piece of muslin cloth, with plenty of overlap, over the top of the bottom pan and place the first steamer compartment on top.
  4. Place the second steamer compartment straight on top and ladle the cooked apples in to the top section.
  5. Put a bowl directly on top of the apples to help push the juice through and leave overnight.


Preparing the jam

  1. First job is to reduce one litre of apple juice down to about 700ml, so pour the juice into a large high sided pan and place on a medium boil for about 15 minutes - stirring every so often. As well as being the tasty base for this jam it is also chief pectin provider.
  2. Turn the pan off and continue with the rest of the jam preparation.
  3. Pit the strawberries, if they are large chop in half - but leave nice and chunky.
  4. Peel the cucumber slice in half and remove the seed core, chop into 3-4mm thick half moons.
  5. Place both the strawberries and cucumber in to a bowl and gently mix with the sugar.
  6. Peel your orange and lemon with a sharp knife rather than a peeler. Your aim is to cut a fair amount of pith with the zesty rind.
  7. Hand cut the peel into about 3cm long strips.
  8. If you use the peel straight away it will make jam too bitter. So place your hand-cut peel in to a saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil.
  9. As soon as the water is boiling, tip the peel into a sieve and plunge into cold water.
  10. Carry out this process three times.
  11. Back to the jam pan - pour your balsamic vinegar in with your apples.
  12. Place all other ingredients into the saucepan and bring gently to the boil.
  13. As your syrupy contents come to the boil crank the heat up and stir regularly.
  14. If you’re using a jam thermometre (a very useful kitchen tool) you're aiming for the magic 220 degrees C. If you've not got a thermometre place a saucer in the fridge and test whether the jam is ready by dropping a little bit of your jam onto it. Tip the saucer, if the jam thickens and starts to turn gel-like you're there. This process will take about ten to fifteen minutes once the jam is at a rolling boil.
  15. Once you are happy the jam has reached setting point allow to cool for fifteen minutes. This helps the fruit stay in stasis throughout the jam rather than floating to the top.
  16. Ladle the jam into sterilised* jars and seal them up. This recipe will make about 4-5 normal sized jars.


* This how I sterilise my jars: Thoroughly wash jars with hot water and washing up liquid - ensure sink clean - tip over 2-3 kettles worth of boiling water - using tongs transfer jars to oven (75 degrees c) for no less than ten minutes.