tips for stewing fruit from the allotment

Six Unlikely Fruit That Makes Great Jam

A few years ago, I dreamt of running my own jam-making business. I didn’t plan to take over the jam world, just a dabble in the local farmers’ markets and some extra pocket money.

I bought (a lot of) jars and designed logos and labels. Jono’s Man Jam was born.

Being a typically faddish man, this new venture didn’t get very far, but it did last long enough for me to make a large number of different jams. Finding fruit that made good jam from hedgerows, gardens and local parks was something that very much floated by boat, and I was reminded of this during a Twitter convo earlier in the week.

@suffikboi had been making gooseberry jam. I made a big batch of gooseberry Jono’s Man Jam back in the day as I had six very productive bushes on the allotment. The Twitter exchange made me think of what delicious jam red gooseberries made. Topping and tailing the fruit is a bit of a chore, but it sets easily and makes a beautiful red jam.

Strawberry and raspberry are the jams seen as the tastiest in the shops, but I reckon red gooseberry can easily hold its own in the taste stakes. Here are 5 other unlikely fruits that make delicious jam.

Rhubarb jam is often quite runny due to the low pectin content, but this can be helped by adding the juice of a lemon or using jam sugar. The fruit-cum-vegetable does make a smashing jam though, which is tarter than your average preserve. Add vanilla or ginger for extra taste sensations.

The good old plum is a more commonly made jam than the very similar greengage, but it’s actually the latter I prefer. Both fruits are full of pectin so set well, and being big they provide plenty of bang for the buck. The greengage is a slightly sweeter jam, and my inaugural ‘Tresspass Greengage’ (don’t ask…) is still my favourite batch of jam I’ve ever made.

…apart from the damson maybe.

For me, ‘jamson’ is the tastiest jam available to man, even beating strawberry. I don’t make much, as the preparation is annoyingly fiddly, but the end product is gorgeous. The jam is a striking deep, red colour, and being that bit tarter than other fruit, the jam is a refreshingly sharper taste than most others.

I also use less sugar than other recipes suggest. This is a general rule of thumb in my jam making, as I do like a tarter jam.

I stumbled across this amazing sloe and apple recipe a few years ago when I was searching for sloe gin info, and although technically a jelly, I did all the normal jammy things with it such as spread on toast.

The recipe is on the excellent niche website and is mysteriously credited to ‘MJM’, from Essex. The jelly is deliciously tangy and cooks up in the same colour as sloe gin.

I don’t tend to grow pumpkins much these days, but when I did I use to use up aging fruits by making a jam or marmalade. There are a couple of good recipes knocking around online, including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s jam and this orange marmalade on the Nigella Lawson community.

Both of these recipes use ginger, which adds a very satisfying zip to the end product.

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