Jams are pantry staples, and preserves really should be. Matthew Evans, the Gourmet Farmer, gives his tips on how best to make these fruity favourites at home. #GourmetFarmer
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4 Mar 2019 - 10:15 AM  UPDATED 4 Mar 2019 - 10:15 AM

Strawberry jam

Once you've tried this really simple recipe, you'll question why you ever bought commercial jam. The quality and ripeness of the strawberries you pick out make a difference here: really ripe fruit has less pectin, and therefore doesn't set very well, but has more flavour than unripe berries. As a compromise, chose a mix of ripe and unripe strawberries. 

It's all in the picking when making strawberry jam at home. 

Preserving fruit

Does the sound of doing your own preserved fruit sound intimidating? Give it a try and discover just how simple the process is. Simply prepare your fruit, pop it in a sterilised jar, add some spices, water and sugar, then tightly seal and boil. 

The jars will be quite hot when they're done boiling, so leave them to cool as the water cools. 

Crab apple and port jelly

Packing a beautiful blush-red colour, this jam is a real treat that's perfect to keep in the pantry or give as a charming gift. There's a trick to making sure that your jelly comes out with the best colour - once you've cooked the fruit to a pulp, don't squeeze it to get the juice out, rather leave it overnight in a colander lined with two layers of muslin (cheesecloth). You can easily find this in craft and fabric shops. 

Even worth making just to look at Matthew Evans' crab apple and port jelly

Damson cheese

Despite the name, damson cheese isn't really cheese (not in modern parlance, anyhow). It's a jam-like paste that's fruity and thick. Don't be quick to throw away the plum stones when getting the juice, the kernels inside can be added to the pulp, which adds a beautiful almond flavour. 

It's also worth sterilising your equipment before you start, to avoid any bacterial growth while the cheese preserves. 

It's not what we'd consider a cheese, but damson cheese can be served with your favourite cheddar.

Yoghurt and raspberry cake with elderflower syrup

This is a variation on a Greek-inspired yoghurt cake and the raspberries tend to sink into the batter a bit as the cake rises, which is just perfect. While the cake cooks, heat the water, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the syrup from the heat and add the elderflower cordial, then spoon the syrup over the top of the cake. Try to spoon it so it soaks into the holes evenly rather than all soaking into the edges around the tin. Allow to cool, then serve it to all your favourites.

Yoghurt and raspberry cake

Visit the Gourmet Farmer program page for recipes and to find out more about the show. Return to the Gourmet Farmer homepage.

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