Thursday, October 6, 2011
Making Mulberry Jam
The black weeping mulberry tree is laden with fruit this spring - even after the birds have raided the tree there have been more than enough berries to pick. Plenty for eating fresh from the tree and for making jam. I have made two batches so far and would love to show you how I made my jam.
I enlisted the help of several willing volunteers (my younger children) who were more than happy to pick (and eat) berries. Pays to wear old clothes when you are picking mulberries! We filled up a big bowl with approximately one kilo of berries. This is just from one visit to the tree - plenty remain, still to ripen. I usually make jam in small batches - one kilo at a time. This is more likely to ensure that your jam sets, especially as mulberries are not naturally high in pectin - this is why I also included some not quite ripe berries in the batch I was making into jam.
A handy tip I found was to also pick a few green berries. Squish them between your fingers and rub over those inevitable purple stains - hey, guess what? Green mulberries can remove the stain of ripe mulberries from hands and fingers. Try it - it works!
I did not remove the stalks - 1. Because it would take forever 2. Stain my fingers even more and 3. I did a little research and found out that mulberries are high in anti-oxidants and the stalks contain the most resveratol, a phytonutrient that studies suggest may provide a number of health benefits including a cardioprotective action.
All the berries (1 kilo) went straight into the pot and were gently simmered in their own juices until tender. I then added 1 kilo of raw sugar and 2 large apples that had been lightly stewed in a small amount of water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice in a separate pan.
Brought to a rapid boil - the jam bubbled and reduced down and I began to test for setting by placing a spoonful onto a cold saucer and gently pulling back the surface. Even though the jam seemed a little too runny for my liking, a slight crinkle was appearing after just 12 minutes. I poured the jam into the hot sterilized jars and sealed them. It set just fine without the need for commercial pectin. But do not be dismayed if your jam does not set - call it dessert sauce and spoon it over ice cream or pancakes! You can't go wrong. In fact the next batch of jam I make is not going to be allowed to set as I would like to have some sauce in the pantry too!
The first jar was opened later to serve on homemade scones with cream of course. Four out of the seven original jars (I used slightly bigger preserving jars for my second batch) remain and will come out at breakfast time - just a little sliver is all that is needed on a slice of crusty sourdough toast.
I have been using Gary Mehigan's (Masterchef Australia) recipe for scones since I discovered it as it involves no rubbing in of butter - anything that saves me time in the kitchen I'm happy to try and this is a great scone. I sometimes add walnuts and dates, occasionally white chocolate and berries but as there were whole berries in the jam this batch was just plain sweet scones - whipped up in next to no time. They disappeared in next to no time too!
We still have the odd passion fruit coming in from the vine that covers the fence of our chicken run and orchard. Not enough for turning into jam as most are sliced open and consumed by my children who love them. They occasionally remember to bring me a few to use for passion fruit icing! What fruit are you harvesting at the moment? What are your favourite preserves?