+++ Where does the time go? . . . We have generated over 3200kwh of electricity with our solar panels since October 2012 . . . £610+ FIT . . +++ I'm dyslexic, dyspraxic (but erudite and eclectic) and physically challenged.~ ♥ ~ Jes ~ ϖ
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Blackcurrants + a little Sugar = Microwave Jam!
Freshly picked taste ! low sugar; No slaving over preserving pans; less washingup; makes creative gifts .
Need Microwave; your fingers get filthy topping/tailing; the jam gets eaten too quickly
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Two years ago, I had finally managed to pick all the blackcurrants from the bushes in my front garden! It was a backbreaking job to "top and tail" all the blackcurrants - it was a bumper crop for five bushes. Some were so small that the berries were almost the same size as the tail…
Anyhow, the best use for mini blackcurrants is jam, and the best way to make jam is in the microwave.
The benefits of making the jam in the microwave include: … No metallic taste from boiling in a metal preserving pan; … No slaving over a massive pan on the cooker; … No constant stirring; … No trying to keep the jam from burning on the stove or boiling over; … No trying to wash up an oversized pan in an undersized sink; … Full, intense flavour, with less sugar required to set.
A minor drawback is my inability to make a large batch at once - I usually make about 2lbs of jam per batch - fill the jars, wash my Pyrex™ bowl and other equipment and start again on the next batch.
While I am doing each batch, however, as I do not need to stand over it constantly stirring to keep it from boiling over or burning, I can be continuing to top and tail the next lot of blackcurrants.
Last year there were barely enough berries to scatter over a bowl of cereal, but this year was better. The problem was finding a non-rainy day to pick them before they fell off the bushes of their own accord.
I finally managed to harvest the remaining berries on Friday, and topped and tailed them as we drove to Northampton for our Annual Church Convocation. The prepared berries filled a 2ltr ice cream tub, and l put them in the chiller. As July welcomed August, l finally found time to complete my task.
Using just under a 1kg package of sugar, l have once again made jam.
=========================================================I prefer my jam quite tart with as little sugar as possible - this is the recipe I invented by accident several years ago to make jam in the microwave.
Two years ago l picked the first berries on Thursday afternoon (21st July) and finished preparing the berries for jam-making on the Tuesday evening (26th) when I got home from my first breast-screening scan. I was up all night that night with my first jam-making session of the year 2005.
EQUIPMENT REQUIRED: ... One Microwave Oven, naturally (mine is a 750W - E rated - if your microwave is a different rating you will have to adjust the directions accordingly) ... One large microwave-able Pyrex™ Bowl (I think mine is a 4-pint size) ... One potato masher (to crush the cooked berries before adding sugar) ... Nylon or wooden spoon to stir sugar into fruit ... One silicone/rubber/nylon spatula/bowl-scraper (needs to withstand high temperatures) ... Measuring jug with gradation markings - (I used a 2-pint plastic jug) ... A ladle to assist in transferring jam to heated jars
... [Optional: a "jam" thermometer to test the temperature - I didn't bother - but if you put too much sugar in and overheat it, you might make "boiled sweets" instead of jam] *
... Sufficient empty jars with lids for the jam - I like lids with a "button" that indicates a vacuum seal when it cools
INGREDIENTS: ... Freshly picked Blackcurrants ... Granulated Sugar (can be either white or golden unrefined)
METHOD: ... Carefully remove the "tops" and "tails" from your blackcurrants. It will still work if you don't, but it won't be as nice if you are making miniature pots to use as gifts. It doesn't matter if they are not quite ripe or if a little bit of fruit comes off with the tail. I separate any slightly scarred fruit at this stage into a different batch, as the jam might not keep as well as that made with "perfect" fruit. ... Measure your blackcurrants into your jug - I used approximately one litre of fruit (volume) for each batch I made. ... Rinse the blackcurrants and drain them before pouring into your glass bowl. ... Put the bowl (loosely covered) into the microwave and cook on HIGH for five minutes ... Meanwhile measure approximately half the quantity (volume) of sugar into the jug. ... When the berries are cooked, remove bowl from microwave and crush the berries with your potato masher until they are well pulped. ... Add the sugar and stir well until dissolved ... Put covered bowl back into microwave on HIGH for 3-5 minutes until it starts to boil. ... Re-stir fruit and sugar mixture to ensure there is no sugar sediment in the bowl ... Let boil uncovered in bowl on HIGH for about 8 minutes. You might want to check it at 5 minutes and re-stir, using the spatula to clean any residue off the sides of the bowl.
... When the jam is done, the surface will pucker slightly and the usual tests (if you have made jam previously by conventional means) of "clumping" on the spoon and spatula can be made. If you taste the drops off the spoon (mind, it is VERY HOT) it will suddenly taste less like syrup and more a consistency of melted jam - more cohesive. The clumping test consists of stirring the jam and lifting spoon out. You hold the spoon over the bowl, seeing if two or more drops "clump" together.
WHEN JAM IS READY: ... Remove the bowl from the microwave ... Fill the measuring jug with the jam with the aid of the ladle.
... Put your washed jars in the microwave. I put the lids top down on the turntable as well. One of my microwaves has a metal turntable, so it should not be dangerous if they do not touch anything.
... Heat the jars for 1-2 minutes until they are hot, then fill them to about half an inch from the top, replacing them on the turntable for a further minute while the jam bubbles up in the jar.
... Put the lids on the jars, securing them. When they are slightly cooler, tighten the lid. As they cool, it is a most satisfying sound when the button clicks as the vacuum seal is made.
STORAGE: Keep in a cool place out of direct sunlight.
Two years ago, I made about 14 - 15lbs of Blackcurrant Jam using 3 x 1kg bags of sugar - so they really ARE a low sugar jam - with just enough sugar to set the jam. I don't weigh fruit or sugar - just measure, and my jars are mostly non-standard but it is a close "guestimate" - I HATE jam that is too sweet, even finding Streamline too sweet on occasion.
It has been suggested that this might not keep so well without a lot of sugar. I can only say that I always ensure I have a vacuum seal rather than using wax discs or wax, and have never opened a bad jar. I use jam made with poorer quality fruit first, and always carefully top and tail, so as to introduce fewer impurities. The oldest unopened is about 4 years old; I still have a few 2005 jars left, and they have been as nice this year as when they were made!
If anyone is concerned, you can keep an opened jar in the refrigerator, but I have not needed to. Treat it as you would any other purely natural jam with no added artificial preservatives.
VARIATIONS: ... You can add other fruit if you wish, but your method may need to change as fruits containing less pectin may require more sugar and more cooking time. One of my later batches, I cut a whole orange peel (thinly peeled in one piece from an orange) into tiny shreds. I added a little water and boiled it in the microwave for five minutes before adding the peel shreds to the raw blackcurrants, which I processed as usual into jam in the microwave. If you find blackcurrants too strong on their own, tart apple pieces can be added. I did not do that this year - you may have to experiment on your timing.
Practice will improve your technique.
Remember that, just as when you make jam tarts, the jam thickens as you re-cook in the oven; don't be afraid to stop too soon and then re-boil a little longer - try to re-boil for about one minute at a time until it stiffens enough to spread smoothly.
========================================================= * NOTE: I had some blackcurrants that were a bit withered, so I added water and cooked them to re-constitute them. I then added some sugar - possibly a little bit too much, and cooked them in an unfamiliar microwave. [I had successfully made 1lb of jam earlier in that microwave] As I was trying to keep out of someone's way I cooked the "jam" too long and it overheated (to between the "soft-ball" and "hard-ball" stage) - the result? a hard boiled sweet effect - which my husband enjoyed - but which was hardly the original intention...
I'm thinking about making my own jam and this sounds wonderful!
angelboouk123 04.11.2010 22:01
shall try this x
hillhead 29.03.2010 22:26
Thanks for sharing this Jesi. My Mum always made me go Blackberry picking when I was young and I remember her boiling and making the jam. It was delicious. She makes wine also with the fruit at the farm. I will tell her about microwaving. I might give it a go myself you know. You can not beat home-made. At least your hubby enjoyed your overcooked sweets lol. a fab review : )