As Alex happened to be in Melbourne and another good mutual friend loves to preserve too, we decided to get together and do a bulk bottling session to share our knowledge and while away a Saturday morning over bubbling pots of summer fruits.
In the end, we each went home with jars of nectarine jam, plum jam, orange marmalade, lemon cordial and chocolate sauce. Far more than any of us needed really, but, being preserves, we have a while to use them up.
Our extensive haul of equipment; collection of jars and bottles (we actually filled most of them!), many large pots, juicer, plenty of sugar, plenty of pectin (Jamsetta), scales and other bits and pieces. No room for fruit on this bench, so our work surface spread to the kitchen table.
Acids for the cordial, cocoa and vanilla extract for the chocolate sauce. The sauce is a family recipe from Fran, our mutual friend, and is fantastic on ice-cream or stirred into cold milk.
Beautiful nectarines being washed in the morning sun.
First on the boil; nectarine jam. We didn’t have a recipe for this, only some lovely fruit to use so we used the standard jam recipe (1kg of sugar for every 1kg of fruit) and added Jamsetta at the end where we felt it needed thickening. Note the lemon boiling away in with the nectarines is a lemon shell that has been zested and juiced. It was in there to raise the pectin levels and help it set. Fran was good enough to stand over the pot and skim off the foam as it formed, to ensure we have a beautiful clear jam. You can add a lump of butter to the pot to clear the foam without skimming but this shortens the shelf-life of the jam and is no longer a vegan recipe.
Orange marmalade boiling away. This recipe is from Year in a Bottle and, initially, we were concerned about how much water went into the pot with only 1kg of oranges but, 2 packets of Jamsetta later, it is the perfect consistency once cooled.
Three pots boiling away (L-R); plum jam, marmalade and lemon cordial.The plum jam also had to be skimmed extensively and we needed to add Jamsetta here too. Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion provided the plum jam recipe, though we didn’t quite follow it to the letter. The original recipe calls for the jam to stand for 8 hours (overnight) so we did the speedy version instead.
Bottling up our creations. Easily the messiest task of the morning, thanks to my purchase of a commercial sterilising agent; sterilising the jars was easy as anything and no handling of lava-hot glass was required. The sterilising agent is commonly used in homebrewing and winemaking and can be found in specialist supply stores.
Delicious chocolate sauce; closely guarded family secret that, alas, we cannot share. Rest assured it is delicious and we will appreciate it on your behalf. Alternatively, you can probably find similar recipes online. Well worth the (minimal) effort and far, far superior to any chocolate ice-cream toppings bought from the supermarket.
Lemon Cordial; easy, delicious and beautifully refreshing on a hot day (like last Saturday in Melbourne!). Perfect with Soda Water and a dash of Gin!
Nectarine Jam: such a lovely colour, absolutely the taste of summer in a jar. I can see myself enjoying this in the depths of winter to bring a little of the summer sunshine back.
Tangy Marmalade Jam: the surprise black horse that stole the show! We were all very happy and, honestly, surprised when we looked at these later in the day because we poured a very wet, thin mix into the jars but the cooling time allowed it to thicken. This recipe is everything you want in a home-made marmalade; beautifully tangy in a way they just can’t re-create en-mass.
Plum Jam: with the most gorgeous, jewel-like colour and a lovely sweet flavour, this was beautiful in the trial runs (i.e. on my toast the following morning).
All-in-all we considered it a successful four hours work and have learnt a lot from each other. Can’t wait till Alex is back so we can do the whole thing all over again!
I attended a class at the CAE in Melbourne where this recipe was shared, but on Saturday we discovered on Saturday that it appears in Stephanie Alexander’s The Cooks Companion.
- 1.8kg castor sugar
- 1L water
- 30g citric acid
- 30g tartaric acid
- juice of 8 large lemons, strained
- Finely grated zest of 4* lemons
Scrub and wash the lemons and proceed to zest and juice them.
Make a simple sugar syrup by dissolving the sugar and water in a non-reactive pot. Add the citric and tartaric acids and stir until dissolved. Allow to cool before bottling.
Serve with water, soda water, tonic water or lemonade.
* The recipe initially called for 2 lemons but in using the cordial we felt four would have provided a more zesty lemon taste.
Tangy Orange Marmalade:
This recipe requires you to have a little faith. As mentioned, we were concerned that the mixture was more liquid than marmalade (and even questioned whether we misread the amount of water in the recipe). Due to time constraints the mixture was bottled. A few hours later, when I dared to open a jar, the most wonderful marmalade surprised me. So have faith in the recipe, and faith in your ability as a cook!
- 1kg oranges
- 1 Lemon
- 8 Cups of Water
- 2 Cups of Orange Juice*
- 3kg sugar
We placed 3/4 of the oranges in a food processor slicer and Alex finely chopped the remaining oranges and lemons. Place the citrus in a large pot and add water, and orange juice. Allow the mixture to boil and then cook until the fruit is soft. Add the sugar and bring back to the boil, taking care to stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved. Allow it to boil hard for 25 minutes. Add pectin if necessary (We used 2 packets of Jamsetta).
Allow to stand a few minutes before spooning it into jars.
* We didn’t have orange juice so water was substituted.
We didn’t follow a recipe for the jam, just following the 1:1 fruit to sugar ratio. We did some research before hand and discovered that nectarines have a low pectin count to while it was cooking we threw in a few lemons that had been juiced for the cordial and removed them before bottling.
- 1kg Nectarines
- 1 kg Sugar
Was and stone the nectarines (we kept their skins on). Place in a pot and warm the fruit until it starts to break down. Add the sugar and bring to the boil. Be sure to stir the mixture. Like the plum jam, it will froth, so you will need a slotted spoon on hand. Boil for approximatley 20 minutes. Add the pectin/JamSetta following the instructions on the packet.
When ready allow to cool for 10 minutes before pouring into your sterilised jars.
- 1kg Plums
- 610g Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
As mentioned we were originally going to follow Stephanie Alexander’s recipe until, well we released it require much more work than we were willing to put in (and involved the plums sitting overnight).
Halve and stone the fruit. In a nonreactive pot place the plums (we preferred to leave their skins on as this adds pectin as well as providing a more robust flavour) and sugar and allow the sugar to melt on a low heat. Turn up the heat and allow the mixture to boil. Foam will rise rapidly. What we found was that the foam that we set aside in a bowl, could them be skimmed and the mixture added back to the jam.
Allow to cook for about 20 minutes and add the JamSetta/Pectin according to the manufacturers instructions. Allow to cool for a minute or two, and spoon into sterilised jars.