My Granny made jam. It was kept in a tall dark musty smelling cupboard with a key in the door and a creaky hinge. I can't recall ever seeing her actually making it but I can still picture the jars and jars lined up on the shelves in the dark with their cellophane tops and neat labels. Raspberry, Strawberry and Bramble are the only three I recall. No out-there flavour combinations in the 70's and 80's. My Grandma Corntown's Jam features in a traumatic childhood incident. I was staying the night at at her house and a raspberry seed got lodged in my tooth from a jammy piece. So uncomfortable was it and so distressed was I that I had to be taken home for my Dad to dislodge it.
Do you jam? Or is it the preserve of the older generation? Whether you're an absolute beginner or an accomplished artisan the World Jampionships are inviting you to join them on #jamjourney14 Team Jam are gearing up in their search for the best homemade Jams and Jellies in the World. Full entry details can be found on their website www.worldjampionships.com with categories including Jammy Men, Junior Jam Makers, Women's Institute and First Timers. The class list includes strawberry, raspberry, blackcurrant, interesting additions, merry berry, jam with chocolate, chilli jam, savoury jam, my favourite jelly and think outside the jam jar. There are lots of hints, tips and recipes to help you on your sticky journey.
As a "less mature jam maker" I was invited by the World Jampionships to blog about my own #JamJourney. Its something I've always enjoyed making but last summer provided me with a bumper crop of fruit and and I managed a particularly large range of self preservation. However upon reading up on jam making on the Jampionships website it would seem that I'm a bit of a fraud as I use jam sugar. I fear I may be excommunicated for that admission. I must learn how to make pectin stock.
There's a wee bit of mystery and ceremony to jam making. I recall well my mum placing a saucer in the freezer to cool before testing the set of jam by dripping on a small amount, placing it next to an open window and checking for the wrinkle. The jam jars warming in the oven. Jam spoons and Crystal Jam Pots. The Jeely bag handing precariously balanced on stools and a walking stick. Dire warnings not to touch it or the jelly would be cloudy. Stained fingers, mouths and scratched legs and arms from bramble picking along the old railway.
For my own Jeely making the walking stick has been replaced with a hockey stick to hold Grannies Jeely Bag. My own kids are now the ones being warned not to touch it. They are happy to come berry picking with me and I have trained them up well in the art of assembly line production with waxed disks, saucer of water, cellophane and rubber bands. My friends keep all their old jars for me and are well used to texts requesting emergency supplies of jars with payment in preserves.
I'll be encouraging some future jammers at a forthcoming Blaeberry Bash family food and foraging event where we'll be boiling up some tiny pots of Blaeberry Jam. Thanks go to Patteson's Glass who are the principal sponsor of Jampionships and have provided 100 mini jam jars. I'm going to have to investigate the pectin content of Blaeberries to avoid having to go down the evil jam sugar route to ensure a set.
I love sharing my jammy makes with friends but at a recent comedy gig I learned that perhaps my pots of preserves may not be being received quite as well as I had hoped. Josh Widdicombes Jam routine had me crying with laughter. But it hasn't put me off making jam. I shall continue to adorn my jars with raffia and chequered cloth. Alas no Jampionship entries from me this year as I don't currently have a kitchen. However with the closing date not until 15th August there's still plenty time to get YOUR entry in. Don't worry. Mr Widdicombe isn't on the judging panel.