Sunday, 23 May 2010

Jam-making & berry identification FAIL

This week's fruit and veg box brought with it some blueberries. At least, I thought they were blueberries. I even looked at some pictures on the internet to check and they look very similar, so I concluded they were blueberries.

Now, what to do with them? Some googling about took me to this recipe for blueberry jam. I had never made jam before and this sounded so ridiculously easy, it seemed almost criminal not to give it a go. I always thought that making jam meant dicking about with large copper pots and thermometers, so this sounded too good to be true (note to self: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is).

Once I started simmering the 'blueberries', I quickly realised that they were blackcurrants, given the colour oozing out of them. No matter, though, I thought. Surely the same principles would apply and I could carry on regardless. It actually looked quite promising and after adding the sugar it really looked like jam should look and I was excited about eating it.

I duly left it in the jar to cool and decided to spread some on some toast for lunch; which I would have done, were it possible to spread the substance which had now congealed in the bottom of my jam jar. Hard as a rock. Well, not quite, but too hard for jam.

And I've no idea what went wrong. Lots of things could have gone wrong - I may have boiled it too much, not boiled it enough or this recipe might not work with blackcurrants - but I can't pin it down to any one thing.

I still intend to make jam in the future, so if anyone has any good recipes, please pass them on!


  1. Speak to mum, she has lots of good jam recipes.


  2. Better luck next time! I mainly do chutneys which it's always about judgin the sweetness/ sharpness balance right. Keep meaning to have a go at fruit jam. Once did tomato chilli jam which is lovely with cheese. More luck than know-how!

  3. I think its to do with the amount of pectin, from memory, blackcurrents have lots in so pretty much only need sugar and water, but the ratios are probably different to blueberry...

    Watched my mum make jam for years, steel pots are fine, aluminium pots can taint the jam... after that its all in the practice as far i can tell.

    If any of that was any help, glad to be able to, if not, no worries!


  4. Weird, my main Jam!Fail moments always involve the jam being too runny, not too hard. And then it's salvagable by calling it "strawberry sauce" instead of "strawberry jam" and pouring it on ice cream.

    I've never heard of jam being too hard, but I guess you must have used waaaay too much pectin, since you have to adjust your recipe to how much pectin the fruit has already naturally. I wonder if there's some way it can be melted down and salvaged somehow.

    Don't let this discourage you, though! Jam making really is fairly easy, though I suppose it does help if you know what fruit you have so you'll get the pectin right.

  5. I didn't use any pectin whatsoever. All pectin in the jam must have been already present in the fruit. There wasn't a lot of it though, so maybe I just boiled it too much.

  6. I googled it because I don't know what a black currant is. Did you know that they are added to Guinness and other beers as a flavoring? Interesting. Your thought about boiling it too long was probably right. The instructions say to boil it for three minutes, only. That is in bold.

    I plan to try my first jams this year too. My neighbor has a huge raspberry bush. She never picks them! It's awful to see all the fruit wasted ... then the bugs come. Yuck. I have decided to pilfer as much as possible this summer.

  7. Jen, you are always filled with such interesting facts! I may have boiled it for more than 3 minutes, so, yeah, that was probably it.

    Good plan on pilfering the raspberries! Let us know how it goes.

  8. I have never tried making jam as boiled eggs are usually beyond me. After reading this post, i think i will stick to craft fairs for my home made jam. All the taste and none of the hassle

  9. Tanya, it is really not my intention to put anyone off doing anything. Mistakes and mishaps are all part of the learning curve when it comes to cooking and I want to reflect that in my blog; but it really shouldn't put you off having a go if you want to!

    Craft fairs are great for picking up stuff like jam, though.