Saturday, 25 June 2011

Jam, jam and more jam!

I am not a big lover of fruits, especially the sweeter ones, but one kind I do adore are gooseberries (they're up there with rhubarb and kumquats).  And we got a whole heap of delicious looking gooseberries in our veg box. It was very tempting to make a honey sweetened, oat topped crumble, but, It dawned on me that I have never ever made jam before! How was this possible? It was high time I learnt, and it needed to be a sugar free version too. Up for a bit of a challenge I decided to give it a go.

I did a quick search on the Internet and found some suggestions to use apple juice concentrate in place of the sugar. I didn't have any but I did have my most fabulous and amazing Thorncroft detox cordial, which happens to be 90% apple juice concentrate, and, is a beautiful rich colour with tones similar to my gooseberries.... a match made in heaven!

I'm going to sound like Thorncroft are paying me right now (which I assure you they are not) because this brand is so ace I am going to have to tell you all about it. They make gorgeous soft drinks and cordials, and although some of their varieties do use sugar (but still all natural and containing ingredients with health giving benefits), they have a huge range of fruit juice based cordials and soft drinks. It is this range that I am in love with, particularly the Detox Cordial. It contains everything I hold dear to my heart, liquorice, dandelion, burdock, ginger, sarsaparilla, fennel, turmeric, red clover blossom, cinnamon, clove and coriander leaf. How awesome is that?! 

So I figured I could use this to make (possibly) the healthiest jam around. And I did. And it worked beautifully. It is a little tart, which I like as I haven't a sweet tooth, but you could add a sweeter fruit such as strawberries, or up the amount of cordial. For me this was just perfect, and as gooseberries are naturally high in pectin, it set a treat without having to add anything else. Easiest jam ever. 

Detox gooseberry jam!
400g gooseberries
300 ml Thorncroft detox cordial (you could use regular apple juice concentrate too)

Top and tail the gooseberries and pop them in a pan with the cordial.

Bring to the boil and then reduce to a medium heat. Reduce the liquid down till the gooseberries are mushy and the liquid looks thick and delicious.

When you think the jam is ready, pop a plate into the freezer for a couple of minutes, take it out, pop a dollop of jam on it and leave for a minute or two. If you can run your finger through the middle of the jam without it running back together, it is ready!
Pour into a sterilized air tight jar (I sterilize mine in the oven).

This will need to be stored in the fridge as it does not have the sugar to preserve it. It should keep a couple of weeks.
We enjoyed ours with crusty rye bread.

Staying with the jam theme (this blog post is after all called 'jam, jam and more jam'), I had another jammy recipe to make!
In the back of the fridge I had a teeny bit of St Dalfour jam left in the jar (apple juice sweetened french jam, it is lush) and a bit of pastry left over from the supergreens and egg pie. So I made some dainty little shallow jam tarts with the pastry rolled super thin, that took just 12 mins to bake at 180 degrees C. They were quick, easy and perfect whole little bite fulls, a lovely treat for the girls :)