Jam and Brack

One of the best things I learned during my time at the organic centre was how to make this sugar-free (or low-sugar) jam. Its really less a sticky-gooey jam than a fruity puree, closer to fresh fruit than boiled-for-hours-really-sweet jam. After learning this method, there is no returning to traditional jam making - the results are so much nicer!

The Fabulous K and I made some blackberry jam today, but the recipe is the same for any type of fruit, experimenting with the agar-agar to get the set you want. Just multiply the amounts up for each kilo of fruit.

Sugar-free Jam
1kg fruit
300g honey/maple syrup/sugar
3tsp agar-agar
juice of one lemon - mix these last two together in a cup

Put your fruit in the pot and use a stick blender to whizz it up to the consistency you want it. Bring to the boil, then add the lemon juice/agar-agar mix. Immediately pour into clean sterilised jars. (I wash them well, then swish them around for a few seconds in a sink of boiling water and drain.) This jam only works for screw-top lids. Put the lids on and turn the jars upside down for a few minutes to sterilise the top, then turn them back up to cool.

You can also do this to make passata with tomatoes - blend them with the blender, bring to the boil and then jar them. Nothing else needed.

Its supposed to be kept at under 5 degrees, but in practice I just keep them in a cool dark place, checking every now and then to make sure they are okay. Once opened, put in the fridge and use within a couple of weeks. It usually doesn't last that long though!

I have really enjoyed walking through the lanes this autumn, and haven't seen such a great blackberry harvest since about 6 years back. The blackberries lie like little black diamonds in the hedges, in contrast to the red of the haws and the rosehips. The fabulous K managed to collect a kilo of rosehips. (To me an impressive amount, considering how spiky they are, and how you can't munch on them along the way like blackberries)

We made some beautifully orange, glowing rosehip syrup. Its absolutely gorgeous. I could just drink it from the bottle. (Alright then, so I have been...)
The recipe is here and the video is here.
Also full of vitamin C, in a form that apparently survives heating. (Something I'd like to know more about, that.)

In other cooking news, I wanted to share this recipe from my lovely aunt for a nice moist Tea Brack.

Aunty M's Tea Brack
1/2 pt warm tea
200g each raisins, sultanas and currants (although I used apricots, raisins and dates)
20g dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons whiskey, rum or brandy
300g self raising flour
1 large egg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice

Mix the tea, fruit, sugar and alcohol and leave overnight.
Line a 2lb loaf tin with greaseproof and turn the oven on to 160 C or Gas 3.
Sieve flour and spices over the fruit and add the beaten egg. Mix it up and transfer into the tin. Place a piece of greaseproof over the top when baking to stop it burning. Bake for about 1 hour 20 mins, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Particularly delicious slathered in butter and jam!