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This week I was given a lovely present of an abundance of organic Summer berries. The colours and flavours were so fantastic and in order to preserve the memory, I was given a lesson in jam making by my present bearing friend. I did however save a bowl of the blackcurrants which are truly my favourite Summer fruit, not only for their colour but also that unique, just-picked-from-nature flavour which can be sour, but were just wild and wonderful this time.

The jam making started with the food prep and using a fork to get all those tiny currants off their stems – an easy solution to a fiddly problem. The result was a bowlful of berries that oozed temptation. I was under strict instruction to separate the currants from the berries as they cook at different times and if you are not careful some turn to mush and others aren’t ready. And weigh them first as you need that to calculate the ratio of sugar to add.

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So in went the berries to my lovely copper pan, which seemed the most appropriate vessel for this process. Nothing else, just pure berries and a medium heat and ten minutes or so later we had a glorious pot of colour that was ready for the addition of the berries. It was a quick few minutes to just heat them through before they gave way to their fruit and juice and I was ready to add the sugar.

My friend’s recipe is equal parts of fruit to sugar so there was a lot to add. Stir it in and keep cooking til the jam is ready. So how do you know when it is ready? Well it seems to me that anyone who is a jam maker has their own way of figuring that out. One friend keeps a plate in the fridge and then drops the ready liquid onto the plate and returns to the fridge to see if it is set. Today my friend merely put it on a plate and pulled a finger through. When there is a clear discernible line then all is good.

Whilst waiting for this, we sterilised the collection of jars I had. This is pretty critical to the process of keeping everything preserved to its best. So a thorough boiling and we were ready.

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Jarring up is a messy process when you don’t have all the professional kit, but hey, that’s part of the fun. And top tip… when the jam is in the jar, and the lid sealed and on, just tip the jar upside down to let all the air dissipate. We had a bit of a disaster with one jar, but hey ho. It’s all part of the fun.

On Sunday I completed my tried and tested rye bread recipe which always produces a great loaf with my happy healthy sourdough starter and I have to say, tucking into a piece of warm bread with a dollop of jam was very satisfying indeed.

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