Thursday, 13 December 2018

Two jams for late spring fete - Apricot and Strawberry

Sylvia's school was holding a fete on the recent day of the state election.  They have a captive audience in the voters at the polling booth in the junior school.  So we made jam.  Finding time this year compared to the last fete was harder but it is nice to take some jam along.  I was surprised to find I did not have a plain apricot jam or strawberry jam on my blog so am making amends here.

Firstly we had to find some cheap strawberries and apricots.  So we made a trip to the Queen Victoria Market.  It was a bit of an outing, first stopping for borek and jam doughnut, then making our way up the fruit and veg aisles to the Peel Street end where the crowds thicken and the vendors yell out their bargains.  It is busy but you find a bargain that way.  The strawberries and apricots were cheap but I had to cut out some blemishes.

At home, we sat and chatted to the neighbour, got dinner and bath before putting Sylvia to bed.  Then I started on the jam.  Sylvia was too excited to sleep.  After trying to get her settled, I ended up letting her help me til late.  We were quite tired and sticky by the time the jam was all in jars.  It's a lovely feeling to see all the jam nicely packaged up.

Both the strawberry jam and apricot jam had a lot of scum on top while cooking and we assiduously skimmed off as much as possible.  When we bottled the jams, the apricot looked perfect (luckily there was a lot of it) but the strawberry had a little scum visible.  I worried a bit when someone said it would look like mould.  But it does taste lovely.  I had almost 10 jars and then my mum made some strawberry jam and apricot and pineapple jam for the fete as well.  I printed labels with the school crest and gave them to the school to put cloth caps on.

And a fete is not a fete without a cake stall.  So Sylvia helped me out in a botched attempt at baking.  She made grubs (aka truffles) which were lovely but we decided to make them vegan with coconut condensed milk and Nice biscuits.  This made them a bit softer so I added a little coconut and reshaped them.

Then she made condensed milk choc chip cookies with wholemeal plain flour instead of white self raising.  They weren't quite right and I made another batch when she was in bed.  It made me smile to see her offering her "failed cookies" to friends the next day.  They actually were quite edible.

Then I made lemon slice and, just to prove you are never too old to make mistakes, I accidentally added the butter to the condensed milk and heated them together rather than adding melted butter to the condensed milk.  It was a hot mixture rather than cold but I think it was still ok.

On the day of the fete, I was most impressed with all the cloth caps on the jams.  They looked very impressive.  Our school secretary does lots of work to make jams and chutneys as well as making sure they look good on display.

I had volunteered to spend some time on the cake stall.  I barely had time to vote, grab some breakfast at the farmers market and then head to the cake stall.  Business was pretty brisk.  Some of the parents had brought out colourful napkins, flowers and pretty plates so it looked very attractive, as well as all the wonderful food on sale.  We had the stall in the rotunda because there was some rain on the day.

Meanwhile Sylvia was having fun on the chocolate toss.  This was a money making game where players threw a gold coin aiming to have it land on the chocolate.  If it landed on the chocolate, you took away the bar.  If it fell through the cracks, you had nothing.  Either way the school took your money.  When I went past it was very popular with the kids.

I also quite liked the craft stall.  There are parents at Sylvia's school who are very talented crafters and always bring lots of great stuff to these stalls.  Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to look at the bookstall.

We bought a few cakes from the cakestall and craft items but I didn't buy any jam.  We now have enough at home.  I had a large jar of apricot jam that I kept aside because I hadn't sterilised enough jars, not realising how much I would make.  We also kept aside a couple of strawberry jams that had too much scum on them and a jar of my mum's strawberry jam on which the seal had not taken.  Though I think my mum's jam was kept because we loved it so much, having sampled it with scones and cream in Geelong.

I really love apricot jam with cream cheese.  Above you can see that I found some cute Christmas tree shaped crumpets which were also great with jam.  I keep meaning to make jam tarts or jam drops with all the jam we have.  But I am not complaining.  The jams were delicious and just seemed more fruity than the processed stuff from the supermarket.  I wish I had time to make some jam for gifts but right now, I have a lot I still need to do before Christmas and very little energy.

More jam recipes from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Apricot, nectarine and vanilla jam (gf, v) 
Mixed berry jam
Plum jam
Plum and raspberry jam
Plum and rhubarb jam (gf, v)  
Rhubarb and strawberry jam
Strawberry chia seed jam
Apricot jam
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe and
Makes about 8-10 x 250g jars

2 kg of apricots
2 kg sugar
1 lemon juiced

Stone and cut apricots into 1.5cm chunks.  Place in stockpot with sugar and lemon juice.  Gently simmer until fruit drops off the spoon in rather than runs off as a liquid (or when you place a spoonful on a chilled saucer you can run your finger through and leave a clean line rather than jam pooling back).  It took me about 2 hours (but I added a cup of water that I would leave out next time - just add a little water if it was sticking to saucepan before sugar melted).  Scrape off any scum if possible, though try to avoid scraping out fruit chunks.  Bottle jam using this method or your own way (such as the dishwasher).  Keeps about 6 months to 12 months.

NOTES: I added 1 cup of water but would not do that next time - maybe add a little water to stop it sticking if necessary.  I hope this would bring down the cooking time.  I didn't simmer the whole time - when I got impatient and it was late I boiled for a bit to cook it down a bit faster and once it started spitting too much I brought down the temperature.  I think I should have boiled off some of the water earlier.  If you tip the jam upside down for 5-10 minutes once the jar is full and lid on, then it helps to seal it.  I know it is sealed when the metal lid is drawn down - often with a loud pop.  You should not be able to put your finger on the lid and feel the metal go up and down once sealed.

Strawberry jam
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe and
Makes 3-5 x 250g jars of jam

900g strawberries
900g sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon

Cut strawberries into 2 or 4 pieces (depending on how big they are).  Add sugar and lemon juice.  Sit for an hour.  Then gently simmer and follow instructions for Apricot jam above.  It should take less time than apricot jam once the fruit and sugar has sat together.

On the stereo:
Rip it up and start again: postpunk 1978-1984: compiled by Simon Reynolds


  1. I do love apricot jam. Oh to have fresh apricots to be able to make so many pots. I'd be very happy to have gone home with a few jars of jam and some vegan truffles!

  2. Homemade jam is lovely- good idea to find bargain fruit to make it. I like your baked goods too.


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