Last weekend we eventually visited Craigies Farm in South Queensferry. We have been talking about it for years and now I eventually have collected enough old jam jars, so it was time to go!
We had a spot of lunch there to build up the energy to go fruit picking. A lovely bowl of homemade Lentil Soup and Paninis were the order of the day, and both of us enjoyed our choices.
After lunch we picked up 2 large baskets (though stupidly didn’t ask how much each basket held!) and went off into the fields. The first section of strawberries seemed to have been affected by the weather and there weren’t as many pickable fruits, and a lot still to ripen. However the polytunnels at the end of the field were bounteous in supply, and I got a little carried away and picked nearly 3kgs as it turned out when we went to pay!
There was a small section of gooseberries, but the bushes were plentiful and again I got a little carried away but not as bad as the Strawberries – only 1kg this time! We also passed blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes which both looked full of fruit, but since I already took 2kgs of blackcurrants from Stuart’s Dad, I don’t think I’ll be needing any for a while!
The raspberries unfortunately had taken a bit of a battering by the weather, but we managed to lift a punnet of pre-picked ones.
My plan was to make jam, though with the amount of fruit we picked it was going to be a lot! So wisely I froze the gooseberries and blackcurrants and followed this simple recipe from the BBC website, to make Strawberry Jam. It produced a tasty jam, full of the lovely juicy flavour and also not too sweet with the added sugar! 2kgs of fruit made me 5 jars (which was strange given the recipe said 1kg of fruit would give you 4-6 jars – must be different sized jars!)
1kg /2lb 3oz strawberries
1kg/2lb 3oz granulated sugar or caster sugar
½ lemon, juice only
small knob of butter
The day before you wish to make the jam, hull and halve the strawberries (discard any berries with bruises or that are overripe)
Place the strawberries into a large bowl with 500g/18oz of the sugar and turn carefully to mix and coat well, then cover with cling film and place into the fridge overnight.
The next day, place a saucer into the freezer to chill (used to test the setting point of the jam)
Sterilise the jam jars (by washing the jars in soapy water, rinse in clean warm water and allow them to drip-dry, upside down, on a rack in the oven set to 140C/275F/Gas 1. Leave them there for at least half an hour while you make the jam)
Pour the strawberries, their juice and any residual sugary juices into a very large pan or preserving pan, remembering that the mixture will rise as it boils, and add the remaining 500g/18oz sugar and the lemon juice.
Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Bring the strawberries up to the boil then boil hard until the jam reaches setting point. Check the setting point every ten minutes, although it may take up to half an hour to reach setting point.
[To test the setting point, remove the pan from the heat. Take the saucer from the freezer and place a drop of jam onto the cold plate. After a few seconds push the jam with your finger. If the jam surface wrinkles then it has reached setting point and is ready. If it slides about as a liquid, then it hasn’t reached setting point and should be returned to the heat and boiled for a few more minutes before testing again.]
When setting point has been reached, turn off the heat. Stir in the butter and skim off any scum on the surface of the jam with a large spoon
Let the jam cool and thicken in the pan for ten minutes, so that the strawberries don’t all sink to the bottom in the jam jars.
Carefully remove the sterilised jars from the oven with oven gloves
Stir the jam, then ladle it into the sterilised jars. Use a jam funnel, if you have one
Cover the top surface of the jam in each jar with waxed paper discs that have been cut to size
Cover with a lid while still hot, label and store in a cool, dark cupboard for up to a year.