The Virgin Jam Job

20 Sep

copper potI remember picking brambles every year up to the time I was twelve or so and started to do ‘man’s ‘ work on the farm. Hedgerows were full of them and farmers using pesticides on their crops hadn’t been invented. So there was no chance of my brothers and I being poisoned from eating home made jam then.

Little did we know. It seems the copper pan my mother guarded so carefully while travelling between countless ‘cottar hooses’ after the war and used only for jam making was slowly poisoning us. Ignorance is bliss but can be deadly – obviously she did well to live to the ripe old age of ninety three..

Sixty years on and I’m wishing I had been able to claim the copper pan as a keepsake from her meagre estate instead of having to google for a photo of a copper jam pan.

My lucky day – I found a pic of a copper pan on google plus countless warnings about the copper poisoning that comes from using them. My current everydaystainless steel pan may be small and fiddly but at least it won’t kill me. Well – not until our clever scientists come up with their next twist on everyday things that can do you in.

Picked the berries yesterday so it’s time to have a go at making bramble jam. I’m well sorted with instructions both by email and verbal. Piece of cake isn’t it.

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There’s about 2lbs of berries in the bowls. I’ve been told to use an equal amount of sugar —

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Jam sugar? I had never heard of it and obviously neither had my mother as she had as many runny disasters where you had to chase the jam across your bannock as she had successes. Donated to the cause by a friend – boy – but that is sweet —

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I found half a lemon drying up in the fridge and squeezed it in – didn’t make a jot of difference —

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No worries – gave the mix the cold teaspoon onto the clean plate test and decided it was on the point of setting and ladled her into the jars which had miraculously appeared on loan from a friend earlier this morning. A messy biznez for the uninitiated!

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Left the jam to cool for a bit while I nipped out for a bramley apple and lemon to add to the next batch. Would you look at that! The spoon is standing upright as if by magic!

Fortified by a mug of green tea I’m ready to go again. I can’t help myself but I butter the clean pan each time and throw in the sliced apple complete with skin on —

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Soften the apple a bit on the heat —

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then bung in the remaining berries and a good squeeze from one lemon —

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Berries soft – in with the last of the sugar and stir while the mix is boiling —

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Probably takes about half an hour or more all told but eventually after much licking – the cold spoon and plate test says the goo is ready to set and off the heat she comes —

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I ladle the jam into three jars and leave to set —

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No mess this time – I’m a quick learner. But who will do the washing up? Maybe Alec is available having packed in his job just yesterday —

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And how about this – loaned from a friend with the warning I would face death if I put so much as a blue juice stained thumbprint on it. Obviously a family heirloom

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The Reader’s Digest book on Food from Your Garden. Not only does it instruct the newly wed on how to live from their garden – it also teaches them how to lay out the plot and grow the stuff as well. Pity this isn’t taught in current day schools.


The Virgin Jam Job

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Posted by on September 20, 2014 in out and about


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