THE AUTUMN Raspberries, variety Joan J, are beginning to ripen faster than we can eat them, so this morning we decided to make some jam. Yesterday Paul the gardener presented us with a bag-full of fully ripe peaches (which he grows in a greenhouse) so we decided put the two fruits together.
Once prepared we had just a fraction under two pounds of fruit so we added the same amount of granulated sugar, the best part of a bag. We suspected that peaches might be short in pectin so I added the juice from one large lemon.
The Three-drop Method
A professional jam-maker once told me that the way he gauged when a pan of jam was reaching its setting point was when he held the spoon and three drops dripped from it. We never seemed to get to this stage, it seemed more like syrupy fruit juice every time I tried it, so, after about half an hour, we checked using the cold saucer method. After two minutes in the fridge it was obvious that the jam was ready; it had skinned over and started to set.
You can hold a jar of the finished jam upside down and it won’t flow out but luckily it’s still easy to spread. And delicious. I can’t claim that I can taste the peaches – for me the raspberry dominates – but they do add something to the mix. There’s the difference in texture; how can I put it – a bit floury? A fruit element in addition to the berries.
If trying to describe a fruity flavour is difficult for me, imagine how difficult it would be for Alex, the African Grey, described as the world’s cleverest parrot. He had already learned the words for ‘banana’ and ‘cherry’ so when he was presented with an apple he improvised a new word for it; ‘banberry’, a combination of the two.
Alex might describe our jam as ‘peaberry’.
These watercolour and gouache raspberries were illustrations I drew for a Marks and Spencer range of bisuits back in the late 1980s or early 1990s. At that time I worked through an illustration agency, Bernard Thornton Artists.