Friday, 6 April 2012

Pear and Ginger Jam

Yes, the window needs washing

And the air bubbles need removing.

This is what happens when you buy cheap inedible fruit. I availed of Tesco's 3 for 3 euro offer on bags of fruit. The two bags of small green pears never seemed to ripen, so after a week of looking dolefully at them, I decided to cook them up. We were nearly out of jam, so that seemed to be the natural option. I consulted Professor Google about the method, and was disappointed to read that pears contain no natural pectin, so need special fruit jam or added pectin to set properly. I had neither, just lots of normal white granulated sugar. Reading further, I discovered that lemon zest is added to some jams because it contains lots of natural pectin. Good news, but we had nay got lemons neither. Just lots of oranges. So I  figured oranges must be nearly as pectin-laden as lemons, and I suppose I was right.

Barely rinse pears in a colander, reasoning that the cooking process will kill off any bacteria anyway.
Slice pears roughly - we are not Darina Allen, removing stalks and most of the cores. Leave skin on because you are a busy mom, and making jam in any shape or form is good enough, peeling be-damned.
Find two old slices of frozen ginger root, looking a little freezer-burnt.
Throw pears, ginger slices and about half a cup of water into a large saucepan, adding sugar. As I'd read many a jam label in my 34 years, I based the guesstimate of fruit:sugar ratio to the usual 55:45 that seems to be the way of most jams. Again, visual guesstimates only; the weighing scales remains dusty on the  shelf. Grate finely the zest of the orange, grating some of the pith too because you're not really sure where the pectin lies, be it zest or pith, we'll hedge our bets.
Cook all on a high heat with no lid, watching it bubble and reduce, the pears turning brownish and the smell getting better and better.
When it looks done (no testing the setting point/ jam thermometer here - just about 15-20 mins boiling) remove from the heat. Look at it, realise it's quite lumpy, and those ginger slices are still intact. Remember the process you read about, straining the jam through a sieve or cheesecloth. Take out the food blender, and blitz it to a pulp.
I got enough from 2 bags of market value pears to fill this large jam jar, and a large ramekin too.

You are supposed to sterilise the jam jar - I dishwashed it. I had the jam pot covers, bought on a whim two summers ago and never opened, but you could use greaseproof paper and clingfilm. Make sure to get air bubbles out of the jar before sealing. I think they cause it to go mouldy. I stored it in the fridge anyway, just to help it stay fresh, and have been eating it on bagels, pancakes, crackers and mature cheddar, brown bread and cheddar, filling sponge cakes and even added into cupcakes. A spoon of cake batter, a spoon of jam, some more batter, and you have cupcakes with jam inside - magic! The combination of pears, ginger and orange is gorgeous, really works with loads of different foods. If I was a carnivore I'd even baste meat with this while roasting / barbecueing. Have a go, and see what you come up with. Pear and apple? With cinnamon? There are no rules!

1 comment:

  1. Ah....that's the reason for the lemon/citrus...just about to make a HUGE batch so good thing I found your post.



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