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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Hands-free Spiced Berry Jams

Berry jams
Strawberry-Mint Jam
Spiced Berry Jam

Whilst having another read through Nigella's Domestic Goddess, I found her recipe for Hands-Free Raspberry jam and decided I had to make it right then. Sadly fresh raspberries are outrageously expensive at the moment (actually, for all of their short season they're far too expensive) so I decided to buy some frozen berries and try the recipe that way first. If it was a success, I would invest in some fresh berries and perhaps make a few small pots of jam to give as Christmas presents (I'm short of money this year...that's what going back to study will do).

The method for this jam is incredibly simple.
Pour 250grams of fruit into a dish (flatter is better so they can spread out i.e. a pie dish) and 250grams of caster sugar into another dish. Put both dishes into a preheated 180C oven and leave for ~25 minutes, until both get really very hot.
(A squeeze of lemon juice added to the fruit in the dish is also a good idea)
Remove both dishes from the oven and (carefully!) add the hot sugar to the hot berries. The sizzling sound created here is quite impressive! The fruit will turn into a molten river of hot jam. Stir thoroughly, and pour into a clean 250ml jar. Fasten and leave to cool.
The jam is very fresh tasting and must be kept in the fridge.
Makes 1 250ml jar.

I decided to separate box of frozen berries into strawberries, and "others" (blackberries, blueberries & boysenberries). I also decided to experiment with flavours a little. To the dark berry dish I added a stick of cinnamon and 2 small star anise, stirring every 10 minutes or so during the heating process. The spices were very effective in scenting the jam, and have created something that I consider is a perfect Winter jam; spicy, dark and sweet. I can imagine this jam on scones, eaten by the fire on a blustery winter's afternoon.
The strawberry jam, on the other hand is just perfect for the Summer sunshine. After removing the dish of strawberries from the oven, I decided to add a handful of chopped fresh mint. The taste sensation this created is absolutely incredible. I am really taken with this idea and can't stop going back for more taste tests. I cannot recommend this combination enough! This jam would be perfect with meringues and pavlovas or sandwiched with fresh cream on a light sponge cake.

The only criticism with this recipe is that the jam doesn't have a chance to reduce, and is quite runny; it's more of a preserve than a jam. This may also have a lot to do with the fact I used frozen berries -the water content was probably quite a bit higher, so I will try this recipe again with fresh berries and see if there is a difference in consistency.


  • Hi Niki! Just saw your post on these, and I have to say, my version of Nigella's recipe did exactly the same thing and it was made with fresh berries - runny like h***. I use it on my morning yoghurt so I don't mind, but still.. It did get a bit more solid when I mixed it through though. Your flavor combinations sound delish!

    By Blogger Zarah Maria, at 12/12/2004 10:16:00 am  

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