Jam Today

Earlier this summer a copy of Holly Farrell’s The Jam Maker’s Garden arrived for me to review. It has sat in the catering department’s in tray ever since, but now jam making time is upon us we dug it out. What a delight.
Holly FarrellThere’s a peculiar pleasure in growing and using your own produce. You can square that if you have to process it in some way. I made three small pots of beeswax polish from the cappings left over from this year’s honey harvest; fantastic.
Holly Farrell is quick to understand this. She also points out other joys of jam making – not just the delight of eating them! Enjoy the tastes of summer and autumn through the winter and the connection they make with the local – what the French would call – terroir.
There’s a lot more than celebration about this book, however. It covers “garden notes” as well as “kitchen notes”, so deals with growing the fruit you’ll cook too. Some sensible advice in this section, although I find people could always do with more help about what varieties to plant and in what volume. Everyone always plants too many apple trees and under-plants soft fruit, for example.
Rose Hip SyrupThe kitchen section is great. It’s clearly laid out into vegetable and fruit sections. The recipes are easy to follow and many highly original. Carrot jam looks delicious!
The book promotes some more obscure fruit as well – Medlars do well here and I grow them principally for their blossom, but now we’ll be making medlar fudge. I Can’t wait.

Autumn Gluts

I must be one of the world’s worst vegetable gardeners. Every year I walk around my in-laws’ fantastic plot and promise to do better. Every year I respond enthusiastically to various management directives and plant increasingly exotic and disastrous crops. For every couple of disasters there is always a massive glut, which is even more hopeless. There are only so many giant yellow courgettes you can eat. This year we also had huge quantities of rhubarb (as ever) and raspberries (I wish I hadn’t bought an autumn fruiting variety), with a good crop of plums too. Previously this would have resulted in a lot of head scratching and shrugging of under-gardener shoulders, but now salvation is at hand in the shape of Pam Corbin.

Jams, Chutneys and Vinegars
Jams, Chutneys and Vinegars
Pam runs courses on preserves at The River Cottage and has also written a book you should buy immediately – Preserves also published by River Cottage. Our life has been transformed. Courgettes and rhubarb? Mix with ginger to make jam (delicious). Raspberries – jam and vinegar. Plums – jam and chutney. Not only have we actually been using the produce of my useless vegetable patch, but we have also been foraging to good effect. We’ve always made Elderflower syrup and Sloe gin, but now we have Rose Hip syrup, from all the Field Roses I’ve planted to gap up the hedges, and Elderberry vinegar. How very bucolic.