Gooseberry Thyme Jam

Gooseberry Thyme Jam is wonderfully tart with earthy floral notes from the thyme. Of course it’s delicious on toast, crumpets and scones but don’t dismiss its excellence nestling happily on a cheese board.

Gooseberry Thyme Jam

The summer that I decided to make a go of it with my cake stall at the local farmers’ markets I was also fully invested with homemade preserves. I was churning jams, chutneys, butters, ketchups and pickles out of my kitchen at an alarming speed. I was spending early mornings and weekends foraging and then experimenting with my preserves during the day. We still have bountiful jars of rosehip jelly from that very productive time. So when I got a place at a farmers’ market I presumed I would also be selling my preserves right alongside the cakes. This was the dream.

For almost three years that dream has been a bit wobbly. The cakes are a no brainer, they are my deep love and they will make it to a market come rain, shine, wind or hail. I have never though been able to achieve real consistency with the preserves. I still make them, not in huge quantities though. But often I don’t have time to label them or forget to bring the box with me to market.

Gooseberry Thyme Jam

It’s about this time of year when I start looking ahead to the winter markets. I know, it’s crazy! I usually do a few winter fairs selling just preserves and now is the best time for me to start stocking up. My preserves only stall is the best fun. It doesn’t have the same concern that a cake stall may have over leftover stock and it’s easier to hand a customer over a jar than to carefully cut a slice of cake, box it, clean the knives, brush the cake crumbs off the table. Plus the preserves sell like gangbusters in the winter months as people think about their Christmas cold cuts and gifting.

Having just reminded myself how much I love the preserves stall though I’m not sure whether though this is the year to let it fall by the wayside.

Gooseberry Thyme Jam

I have less time than ever. I’m so thrilled that my cake business is doing really well with the markets, bespoke commissions and other opportunities that are on the horizon which I’ll tell you about soon. There is always more I can be doing though to get my cakes out there, admin for the website, social media and do I really want to cut into that time for the preserves?

It probably seems like the sensible decision to concentrate on the cakes when I only have a couple of days a week to do business related things but I have worked hard at developing my recipes, I have a loyal winter customer base and last year I even managed to get the preserves into the local delis. Do I really want to give that up? I am in such a quandary.

Gooseberry Thyme Jam

So, whilst I’m still deciding what to do about the preserves I will continue developing recipes, maybe to sell, maybe just for home use. And meanwhile the latest addition to my collection is a Gooseberry Thyme Jam. One of the easiest jams I have ever made. It only requires three ingredients and was an hour of pleasurable work from start to finish.

I do love a good jam, especially those made with the tarter fruits so they are not overly sweet. When I was a child I was brought up on jammy toast which seems like the ultimate indulgence to our current anti-sugar fever. Now though, I enjoy my jams as part of a cheese board at the end of a meal. Jams are the most excellent accompaniment to salty cheese and if you haven’t tried it then this Gooseberry Thyme Jam is the best place to start. A match made in heaven.

Gooseberry Thyme Jam

Print Recipe
Gooseberry Thyme Jam
Gooseberry Thyme Jam is wonderfully tart with earthy floral notes from the thyme
Gooseberry Thyme Jam
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
5x 200g jars
Ingredients
  • 800 g gooseberries
  • 650 g granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
5x 200g jars
Ingredients
  • 800 g gooseberries
  • 650 g granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Gooseberry Thyme Jam
Instructions
  1. Pour the gooseberries into a large preserving pan with 200ml water. Turn onto a gentle heat and cook the gooseberries until they start to go a bit pulpy.
  2. Sieve the gooseberry pulp and discard the skin and stem bits.
  3. Clean out the preserving pan and place the gooseberry pulp back in with the granulated sugar and the thyme leaves.
  4. Bring to a rolling boil, making sure to stir the bottom of the pan frequently so the fruit doesn’t stick. It should take 5-10 minutes from then to reach setting point.
  5. Once the jam reaches 104°C or passes the saucer wrinkle test* then decant into sterilised jars*.
Recipe Notes

*The saucer wrinkle test basically requires you to put about 5 saucers in your freezer when you begin making your jam. Once you think the jam might be ready then you can double check by removing a saucer from the freezer, dropping a teaspoon of jam on it then placing the saucer in the fridge. After about 30 seconds remove the saucer and push the jam with your finger. If it wrinkles up it’s ready, if it just pools back into the space your finger has left then it needs more bubbling time. Boil it a bit longer, then test again with another saucer.

*To sterilise the jars place the very clean jars you would like to use in an oven pre-heated to 140°C for 20 minutes. Sterilise the lids by dropping them into a saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes with a splash of vinegar. I don’t sterilise my lids in the oven as they tend to ruin.

Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam

This Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a firm early autumn favourite recipe. It’s tangy and not too sweet and best of all contains no added pectin. There are just four ingredients: wild blackberries, granulated sugar, limes and a couple of bramley apples to help it set. The flavour is superb and just an hour or so of work from start to finish will result in the most deliciously versatile jam you can eat all year round.

This easy Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a deliciously versatile four ingredient jam with no added pectin and a tangy zesty flavour.

Blackberries must be one of my favourite fruits as it was only when I was skimming through my archives that I realised how abundant my blackberry recipes are compared to other fruits. That is mainly because of our household obsession with foraging. I am not the worst culprit believe it or not, Luke, who has to be pried out of bed most mornings with a chisel, casts aside the duvet with giddy abandon when those first blackberries start bursting through the hedgerows. All our foraging is done at dawn whilst walking Billy Buddy, much to his chagrin. As Luke delves deep into the blackberry bushes, poor Billy hops from paw to paw, barely bearing the wait until Luke is back on more solid ground again.

This easy Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a deliciously versatile four ingredient jam with no added pectin and a tangy zesty flavour.

We only have a small freezer but dollars for doughnuts you will always find this time of year the blackberries have stolen all the space. This Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam though has to be the recipe which you brandish victoriously when you’ve over indulged with the foraging. It was the first jam I truly loved as the juicy tartness of the blackberries and the zesty zing of the lime cut through all the sugar to create a really complex taste which is perfect for toast, for sandwich cakes, jam tarts and as a replacement filler in these oat bars.

This easy Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a deliciously versatile four ingredient jam with no added pectin and a tangy zesty flavour.

This easy Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a deliciously versatile four ingredient jam with no added pectin and a tangy zesty flavour.

This easy Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a deliciously versatile four ingredient jam with no added pectin and a tangy zesty flavour.

I have always made this jam seedless and it’s a little bit of a faff but there are pros and cons to it. The pro is that you don’t need to prepare the bramley apples, bar a bit of rough chopping, which get thrown in a preserving pan with the blackberries straight off the bat. Once the fruit has softened then they get passed through a sieve which is the faffy con bit. However, if you do a lot of preserving then I seriously recommend a food mill which make very light work of removing the skin and seeds from the fruit without losing any fruit pulp.

This easy Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a deliciously versatile four ingredient jam with no added pectin and a tangy zesty flavour.

If you don’t have a food mill and are de-seeding by hand and sieve then you might have a bit more substantial seedy pulp left behind in the sieve. Don’t you dare throw this away you lucky ducks as it’s marvellous for making blackberry vinegar or blackberry gin.

Print Recipe
Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam
This easy Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a deliciously versatile four ingredient jam with no added pectin and a tangy zesty flavour.
This easy Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a deliciously versatile four ingredient jam with no added pectin and a tangy zesty flavour.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
10x 180g jars
Ingredients
  • 1.5 kg blackberries
  • 500 g bramley apples
  • 3 limes zest of 2 and juice of 3
  • 1 kg granulated sugar
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
10x 180g jars
Ingredients
  • 1.5 kg blackberries
  • 500 g bramley apples
  • 3 limes zest of 2 and juice of 3
  • 1 kg granulated sugar
This easy Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a deliciously versatile four ingredient jam with no added pectin and a tangy zesty flavour.
Instructions
  1. Firstly place 5 saucers into the freezer and then sterilize the jars and lids by placing them in an oven heated to 100°C for 20 minutes.
  2. Roughly chop the apples without peeling or coring, then place in a large preserving pan with the blackberries. Heat gently until all the fruit has softened.
  3. Remove from the heat, then pass everything through a sieve or food mill.
  4. Replace the seedless fruit pulp back into the saucepan and keep the seedy fruit pulp for another purpose (like blackberry gin or vinegar).
  5. Add the lime juice and sugar to the saucepan and heat gently so all the sugar has dissolved. Once dissolved, bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 5 minutes then turn off the heat and place on one of the cold saucers from the freezer. Leave for 1 minute then push the jam with your finger. If the jam wrinkles on the surface it’s ready. If not, then turn the jam back on a boil for a further 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and try the saucer test again.
  6. Once the jam is ready remove the scum from the surface of the jam and then stir in the lime zest.
  7. Decant the jam into the sterilised jars, screw the lids on tightly and store until ready to use.
Recipe Notes
  • The jam can be kept for up to 12 months if kept in a cool dark place

Raspberry Coconut Jam

This Raspberry Coconut Jam is the best thing that’s going to come out of your kitchen this summer.

Raspberry and Coconut Jam

Of all the jams surely raspberry jam is the most superior? Well it’s certainly the jam that the Women’s Institute deem the only appropriate jam for an approved WI Victoria Sandwich cake so that certainly tells us something. Here I’ve amped up a very easy raspberry jam by marrying it with coconut, a love story for our times and it’s no exaggeration to say that this Raspberry and Coconut Jam is taking over my life at the moment.

Last month we travelled up to Scotland for a wedding and made a mini-holiday of it. It’s a bit on an effort to go anywhere with a baby so we got quite cosy in Fife, staying at the gorgeous Cairnie Fruit Farm which not only has a maize maze (!!!) but they also bottle their own jam with fruit freshly plucked from the vine. On our arrival they left us a delicious pot of their raspberry jam with fresh scones. It was like I suddenly discovered raspberry jam again, I had forgotten just how utterly vibrant and exciting this most superior of jams is.

Raspberry and Coconut Jam

The secret to an easy raspberry jam is to use equal parts fruit and jam sugar. To be honest once you have that little bit of info in your back pocket you can pretty much make any jam. Raspberries don’t have much natural pectin, the special stuff present in most fruit which helps a jam achieve its setting point. You could pair the raspberries with another fruit like apples which are high in pectin, also a good method of making your raspberry jam go further, but if you are after a clean raspberry taste then jam sugar is your best friend as it has pectin built in. I also included the juice of a lemon not only for more pectin to ensure an easy set but also to encourage the piquancy of our raspberry flavour.

Raspberry and Coconut Jam

Now this wouldn’t be much of a love story without a leading man and for that part I have cast the superstar coconut. He is everything a raspberry could wish for, this jam is truly a romance for the ages. The two flavours are just meant to be together and that’s that.

My favourite way to incorporate a certain flavour into anything is to include two different dimensions of the same ingredient, so here I don’t just use coconut cream or desiccated coconut but a combination of both. The desiccated coconut is steeped in the heated coconut cream to soften it up and then this coconut flavourbomb is added at the beginning of the jam process. It couldn’t be easier.

If you don’t like coconut then you can simply use the method outlined below for the raspberry jam and omit the coconut but why would you??? It’s true love!

Raspberry and Coconut Jam

This jam is most excellent as the cake filling of a Victoria Sandwich (just don’t tell the WI there’s coconut in it) so to celebrate this epic Raspberry Coconut Jam I’ll be posting my best recipe for the best Victoria Sandwich in an upcoming post (hint: raspberry and coconut jam might be involved).

Print Recipe
Raspberry Coconut Jam
A classic raspberry jam, made all the better with lashings of coconut.
Raspberry and Coconut Jam
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
6x 200ml jars
Ingredients
  • 1 kg raspberries
  • 1 kg jam sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 200 ml coconut cream
  • 50 g desiccated coconut
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
6x 200ml jars
Ingredients
  • 1 kg raspberries
  • 1 kg jam sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 200 ml coconut cream
  • 50 g desiccated coconut
Raspberry and Coconut Jam
Instructions
  1. Place your raspberries, jam sugar and lemon juice in a large bowl and stir well. Leave to macerate together for at least a couple of hours.
  2. Pour the coconut cream into a saucepan and stir in the desiccated coconut. Bring to the boil then turn off the heat and let stand for a couple of hours.
  3. Stir the raspberries, sugar, lemon juice and coconut mixture together in a large preserving pan then bring to a rolling boil.
  4. Boil the mixture hard for about 5 minutes or until the jam has reached setting point (about 104.5°C).
  5. Decant the jam into sterilised jars and leave to cool. The jam can be stored in a cool dark place for about 12 months.
Recipe Notes
  • If you can’t find coconut cream you can extract the cream from a tin of coconut milk. Place a 400g tin of coconut milk in the fridge for a day or so, whereupon the coconut cream will harden and separate itself from the coconut water. When you open the tin you should be able to just scoop out the cream leaving the water behind. There should be about 200g of cream in a 400g tin.
  • I often do steps 1 and 2 last thing in the evening and place both the macerating raspberries and the steeping coconut in the fridge (in separate containers) and then begin my jam first thing the next day.

Pear and Cobnut Jam

Pear & Cobnut Jam

I have so much to say but so little time. I thought that by now I would have motherhood under control, be back to regular blog posts and up and running again on my market stall but I see from the leaves changing colour outside that it’s November and I don’t know what is happening to the year. My baby boy is five months old today and seems to be growing before my very eyes, every day I am relegating more of his clothes to the too-small pile. He is suddenly becoming separate from me, an individual member of our family with his personality shining through his smile and his effervescent gurgling of ba-ba-ba which is the comforting soundtrack to my life.

Pear & Cobnut Jam

This week we started weaning and as you can imagine it’s something I have been looking forward to so much. I am convinced I am raising a mini baker or chef since food is the backbone to mine and Luke’s life. Cole is being incredibly gung-ho about it after his unsure beginnings with a first taste of mashed sweet potato. Now he has also tried banana, apple and cauliflower but last night he had his favourite meal yet – carrot and swede mash which is also one of my most favourite things to eat and for the first time in his life, we ate the same dinner together.

Still I am just about pulling myself together at the moment. The seasons have come and gone taking my recipe inspiration with them but it has suddenly arrived at my favourite time of year and I have some definite ingredients that I am longing to play with. Now the baby has agreed to go to sleep at 7pm most nights, providing I am not too zombie-like after a day of singing Wind The Bobbin Up and Wheels on The Bus I may even utilise this time to my blog’s benefit.

1Pear & Cobnut Jam

Until now I have been spending my evenings preparing for my annual preserve stall at the Stroud Green WInter Fair at the end of this month. I had high hopes of hitting a few Christmas markets this year but I have had to be realistic and have just made a select few of my favourite jams and chutneys to sell at this particular fair which is the most dear to me. Of course it’s the one I help to organise on behalf of Stroud Green WI so of course I couldn’t not have a stall at this most prestigious of events.

Alongside my usual homemade christmas puddings, mincemeats and chutneys I am also including this divine Pear and Cobnut Jam. Last year I didn’t make nearly enough jams for my Christmas markets but this year I hadn’t got my act together in time to make the most of the summer fruits so I was stuck with autumn’s offerings. I remembered reading recently about a delicately flavoured pear jam and when I saw these juicy numbers sat alongside the cobnuts at our farmers’ market in Ally Pally a couple of weeks ago it seemed obvious that was the route to go down.

Pear & Cobnut Jam

The jam has turned out so well so I really wanted to share the recipe here. Pears have a tendency to go watery and mushy once cooked so in order to keep their structure in the jam I macerated them for a couple of days in the sugar with some apples and lemons for pectin and a fragrant hit of vanilla bean and mixed spice. The crunch of cobnuts which are added at the end of cooking are such a surprise in a jam and well worth hunting down at your local farmers’ market.

This gentle amber coloured nectar tastes of wellies splashing in puddles, warm cosy evenings by the fire and Downton Abbey on a Sunday Night.

Pear & Cobnut Jam

I hope it’s not too long before my next post…

Pear and Cobnut Jam

Makes about 10 x 190ml jars

2kg pears
500g apples
1600g jam sugar
2 lemons
1 vanilla bean
3/4 teaspoon mixed spice
300g cobnuts
1 tablespoon butter

  1. Peel and core the apples and pears then dice into small pieces.
  2. Place the fruit in a large dish and toss with the sugar, the juice of both lemons but the zest of only 1, the vanilla bean seeds, the pod of the vanilla bean and the mixed spice.
  3. Cover with clingfilm pressed to the surface of the fruit then refrigerate overnight or up to 48 hours.
  4. Meanwhile de-husk and shell the cobnuts and place in an oven pre-heated to 180°C for 10 minutes to toast. Leave to cool then chop roughly.
  5. Just before bringing the jam together place four or five saucers in your freezer ready to test the set of your jam when the time comes. Also sterilise some clean jars and lids by placing in a very hot oven for at least 10 minutes.
  6. Place the pears and apples into a large preserving pan and bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 30 minutes and then test for set by dropping half a teaspoon of jam onto one of the frozen saucers and placing in the fridge for a minute. After that time if the jam wrinkles when pushed with your finger then it is the right consistency, if the jam runs together after you have pushed your finger through then give it another few minutes and test again.
  7. Once the jam has set then stir in the chopped cobnuts and butter to disperse all the foam on the top and cook for a further minute before removing from the heat and decanting into the sterilised jars.

Strawberry and Redcurrant Jam

Strawberry and Redcurrant Jam
I used to have a bit of a problem with jam. The sugar. I was never one for jam tarts or jammy toast, that was my sister. I would pucker up my nose and screw up my face as if it were poisoning me. Suffice to say I no longer do that. I know I’m not the only one who is getting a sweeter and sweeter tooth with age if my Nan’s shopping basket was anything to go by in her later years. It was just cake and sweets, Mum used to have to surreptitiously hide a packet of frozen peas amongst the bags of coconut mushrooms and custard tarts to ensure she at least had the option of health when she got home. However, despite the increasing dominance of sugar in my life, jam has still been a bit of a stumbling block for me.

Strawberries  |  Stroud Green Larder

redcurrants |  Stroud Green Larder

I enjoy making jam. There is something extremely prudent about conserving the fruits of the season to have later on in the year. I am soothed by the preparation of the produce; washing, peeling and removing stalks and excited by the first boil as the produce slowly starts to break down to achieve intensity. I get an absurd amount of pleasure from pouring in a whole kilo of sugar, the hubble and bubble of the pot and then my fastidious side loves the careful decanting so the sticky jam doesn’t run riot all over the kitchen. I screw the top, test for set the next day, create labels, admire my industrious stack, then offload the whole lot come Christmas time. But I never really ate it myself.

Strawberry and Redcurrant Jam  |  Stroud Green Larder So it was my mission to reduce the sugar content of my jams. Although I achieved some success with the kind of conserves you can eat straight from the jar, my vanilla peach bourbon jam and my blackberry and lime jam (which I still haven’t posted the recipe for, aargh to-do list!), I was dismally failing when it came to the classic strawberry or raspberry jam. I have been canning the final jams which means you require less sugar, I have been cutting the sugar and adding lemons, limes, herbs, anything to counteract the sweetness. However, all these efforts have led to the same result, boiling and boiling and boiling away my jam as it refused to reach setting point. The end product would eventually work but I seemed to be losing too much fruit.

Strawberry and Redcurrant Jam  |  Stroud Green Larder

After a very disappointing time with some strawberry and lemon verbena jam, I was ready to give up jams earlier this summer. Then I had a piece of Victoria Sponge on our WI cake stall a few weeks ago. The intense sweetness was pleasurably sandwiched between two thick buttery vanilla doorstops and for me jam finally had a purpose again. Of course, you are not supposed to eat it by itself with a spoon. The jam needs to be sweet but then used in moderation to bring the best out of the other ingredients it is paired with. I certainly don’t begrudge those whom like to lather it on a crumpet or wodge it in an English muffin but for me, suddenly realising that I could have been using my jam in cakes and desserts has been a revelation. I never bothered using it before as I presumed I didn’t like it, but in the right context and without using the commercially produced stuff jam can be the key ingredient. It is supposed to be sweet, just go with it. Ever since then I’ve been able to see the joy in jam. It has been fully embraced into my life and my baking and my jams have never tasted better.

This has been my favourite strawberry jam adventure yet. These strawberries were just £4 for 2kg from the market and when I brought them home I remembered the redcurrants I had picked up a few weeks earlier which were now lounging around in my freezer drawer for a rainy day. These guys pair together beautifully, the sweet hit of the strawberry is tempered by the tart redcurrants and the ruby beauty as it smudges into the buttercream of the Victoria Sponge is terribly appealing.

Strawberry and Redcurrant Jam  |  Stroud Green Larder

Now, when I made this jam I figured I wanted something quick and lovely so I boiled the two fruits together from the off, fully rejecting my rule of de-seeding all jams. The strawberry seeds I don’t have a problem with but the redcurrants may have a little too much bite. I have since read recipes that recommend boiling up the redcurrants first and then sieving them which I think I would do next time. It would be more useful for me to research these recipes before I make 20 jars of the stuff, but ho hum I will not be told.

This recipe makes masses as I had an absolute glut of strawberries, so if you are making the jam just for yourself I would recommend halving the recipe, unless you like giving jam as presents which then makes us samies.

Strawberry and Redcurrant Jam  |  Stroud Green Larder

Strawberry and Redcurrant Jam
makes about 20x 200ml jars

2kg Strawberries
1 kg Redcurrants, stalks removed
2.7kg jam sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

  1. Remove the stalks from the redcurrants and then place them in a large preserving pan along with the strawberries and heat gently, bringing to a light boil.
  2. When the fruit is boiling then stir in the sugar.
  3. Once the sugar has dissolved then add the lemon juice.
  4. Bring to a rolling boil, making sure to stir the bottom of the pan frequently so the fruit doesn’t stick.
  5. Once the jam reaches 104°C or passes the saucer wrinkle test* then decant into sterilised jars.

*The saucer wrinkle test basically requires you to put about 5 saucers in your freezer when you begin making your jam. Once you think the jam might be ready then you can double check by removing a saucer from the freezer, dropping a teaspoon of jam on it then placing the saucer in the fridge. After about 30 seconds remove the saucer and push the jam with your finger. If it wrinkles up it’s ready, if it just pools back into the space your finger has left then it needs more bubbling time. Boil it a bit longer, then test again with another saucer.

Bacon and Ale Jam

Bacon and Ale Jam
Bacon jam has been done and done.  I’ve even done it and I’m always the last one to catch onto anything.  But that doesn’t mean that just because the fad is dusty that it has become any less relevant.  Bacon jam is excellent and I’ve been missing it in my fridge these past few months ever since my obsession waned.  Oh, I’ve had my bacon salt to keep me going but there is nothing like a tablespoon of bacon jam in a bolognaise or gravy to add the patented smoky sweetness.  This time round I also ate it slathered on toast with peanut butter, it was particularly decadent and incredibly delicious.

Bacon and Ale Jam  |  Stroud Green LarderSince I’m perfectly happy with my tried and tested bacon jam recipe from last year I thought I would do something different to keep it interesting so I’ve Britished it up a bit.  The bacon jam I’m used to has the delightful notes of intense black coffee, smoky chipotle in adobo and American Bourbon.  This time round though I wanted to celebrate the kind of lovely local ingredients which we have on our doorstep; the London ale which we are drinking an abundance of at the moment whilst relaxing in the garden and the local honey I just picked up from the farmer’s market.  Imbued with these comforting and familiar ingredients, spiced lightly with mace and ginger and the subtle heat of English mustard, the jam works wonderfully.  It is a natural accompaniment to cheese and crackers and the picnic perfect wensleydale scones which I am posting about tomorrow.

Bacon jam is supposed to keep for about 2 weeks in the fridge but I have found that it lasts much longer, that is if you can resist.  This pot lasted about 2 days.

Bacon and Ale Jam  |  Stroud Green Larder

Bacon and Ale Jam
Makes about 500ml

300g smoked streaky bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
60ml cider vinegar
60g soft brown sugar
1 tbsp honey
125ml Ale
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp mustard powder
⅛ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground mace

Put the bacon in a large saucepan and cook on a medium heat until the bacon really crisps up, stirring all the while to keep it from sticking. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Add the onion to the pan and cook on a very low heat. After 5 mins add the garlic then continue cooking until the onion begins to caramelise, it should take around 20 mins.
Pour in the vinegar to deglaze the pan.
Add the bacon back in, as well as the sugar, honey, ale, Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, ginger, mace and some black pepper.
The heat should be on the very lowest setting and cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until reduced to a thick and sticky jam.
When it’s ready, turn off the heat and pour into a sterlised jar. Keep the jam in the fridge ready for whenever you need it.

Bacon Jam and Bread

Sometimes all that will do is a bit of jam and bread. Usually when I’ve had a bit of a Sound of Music singalong and can’t get that damn lyric out of my head. It’s a sign. But I’m doing a gluten-free month and jam and bread isn’t totally on board with that.

Unless… it’s gluten-free bread. Now, I don’t know if you have ever tried supermarket sold gluten-free bread but the word cardboard springs to mind. It’s really only good for emergency toastings with lashings of butter to moisten up the arid texture. So when I spied this little number at a farm shop in North London I bought it on a whim, unconvinced it could bring me round to gluten-free bread.

gluten free bread flourActually I’ve been pleasantly surprised, I was convinced it was going to be an inedible disaster but this bread it really works. I started out with a quick soda bread recipe which has been tried and tested in my kitchen many times. Gluten-free breads have a tighter texture so benefit from eating on the day of the bake but since it only takes a few minutes of stirring around with a bit of buttermilk and then 45 mins in the oven, it really is a cinch to pull together.
Gluten Free Bread | Stroud Green Larder
gluten free bread
gluten free soda breadI may have spoilt myself slightly with the jam but I know you’ll understand. About a year ago I attended a bacon masterclass held by Niamh Shields of Eatlikeagirl where we learnt how to make bacon jam, bacon brownies and bacon fudge. It was pretty intense and I absolutely fell in love with the bacon jam. In fact anybody who tries it falls it love, it’s the Ryan Gosling of jams. There is a reason why it swept the internet by storm last year so my inclusion of it here is a bit of a last ditch attempt to join the party.  The umami hit of maple syrup candied with salty smoky bacon and a hint of bourbon is just out of this world and then sweet chilli kicks in at the end to make you go cor blimey. If you try any recipe this weekend and you haven’t eaten bacon jam, then go for it and I promise you will not be disappointed. You must buy the best bacon you can get hold of and I recommend you make as much as you can as it lasts for ages in the fridge and used in dozens of ways. You can eat it cold straight from the jar or warmed up which is how I prefer it. Add a couple of teaspoons to spaghetti bolognaise, winter casseroles or run some through fine beans or mashed potato for outstanding side dishes.
For my jam on bread, I also added a layer of mashed avocado which added a cool creamy texture underneath the jam, it was absolutely heavenly. I’ve had it two meals in a row and am planning it for a third.
Bacon Jam on Gluten Free Bread | Stroud Green Larder
Gluten-Free Sunflower Soda Bread

Adapted from Rachel’s Allen’s Bake

450g Gluten-free bread flour
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
350-425ml buttermilk
1 tbsp sunflower seeds

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 230°C.
  2. Sift all the dry ingredients together.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add 350ml of buttermilk. Bring the mixture together with one hand. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Add more buttermilk if you need to.
  4. Without kneading, as this will create a heavy loaf, pat into a large circle then place on a baking tray. With a sharp knife draw a cross in the centre then scatter the sunflower seeds over the top.
  5. Bake at 220°C for 15 mins then turn the oven down to 200°C for 45 mins.
  6. Eat warm straight from the oven.
gluten free white soda breadBacon Jam

Makes about 500ml

450g streaky bacon, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
60ml cider vinegar
185ml freshly brewed coffee
50g soft brown sugar
60ml maple syrup
60ml bourbon
2 tsp chipotle in adobo
½ tsp cumin

  1. Put the bacon in a large saucepan and cook on a medium heat until the bacon really crisps up, stirring all the while to keep it from sticking. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Add the onion to the pan and cook on a very low heat. After 5 mins add the garlic then continue cooking until the onion begins to caramelise, it should take around 20 mins.
  3. Pour in the vinegar to deglaze the pan.
  4. Add the bacon back in, as well as the coffee, brown sugar, maple syrup, bourbon, chipotle, cumin and some black pepper.
  5. The heat should be on the very lowest setting and cook for about 2 hours for the jam to reduce.
  6. When it’s ready, turn off the heat and pour into a sterlised jar. Keep the jam in the fridge ready for whenever you need it.

Vanilla Bourbon Peach Jam

There are several key factors which get me out of bed every morning.  The first is Furry Alarm Clock 1 who cannot wait the extra half hour until my alarm goes off to start pawing me in the face to be fed.  The second is Furry Alarm Clock 2 who struts into the bedroom caterwauling his presence for his own serving of breakfast.  But the third is peach jam.  Particularly of the Vanilla Bourbon variety which not only is a perfect balance of sweetness and depth but also makes it okay to have alcohol first thing in the morning without being carted off to rehab.
The Worlds Best Alarm Clock2
The Worlds Best Alarm Clock
Peach jam has been for me, until this wonderful batch of homemade sunshine bubbled its way into existence, thus creating a special place in my heart and permanent place on a spoon into my mouth, relegated to Mediterranean holidays.  Lazy continental breakfasts on sun dazzled terraces with crusty breads, cheeses, ham and fresh orange juice, plucked from the tree and poured down my throat.  I love to slather peach jam liberally over bread with a hefty hunk of manchego sandwiched on top so the jam oozes from beneath dripping stickily down my chin.  But then, I have always been terribly mucky.
Peaches

The recipe has been adapted from blondiescakesblogspot.com and I encourage you to try it before the bouncing peaches leave your local greengrocer as it will make up for the lack of our Indian summer this year.

Vanilla Bourbon Peach Jam
Makes 8 x 250ml jars

2 kilos peaches (9 large peaches)
675g sugar
75ml lime juice (or juice of 4 limes)
1 vanilla pod, split in half with seeds scraped out
1 tsp almond extract
75ml bourbon
1 x 250ml bottle of Certo liquid pectin

  1. Peel the peaches, remove the stone and cut into smallish chunks.
  2. Put the peaches in a preserving pan with the sugar and lime juice.
  3. Smash the 3 ingredients together with a masher until thick and pulpy.
  4. Add the vanilla seeds and the pod itself.  Put the pan on a medium heat and bring to a rolling boil stirring constantly.  Stir for 3-4 mins then remove from the heat.
  5. Add the almond extract, the bourbon and liquid pectin.  Stir together.
  6. Place back on heat for 2 mins just to meld the flavours together.  The consistency should be nice and thick.
  7. Remove from heat and pour into sterilised jars. Leave to cool then either eat straightaway like me or save for a cold and blustery morning to cheer you up.
Vanilla Peach Bourbon Jam3