Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The Honey & Co. Baking Book - Rose and Strawberry Jam

Today's post is going to be a Honey&Co. related post, and in that vein it should lead in with a Honey&Co. related announcement.

Sarit and Itamar read the babka post guys. And they loved it. Sarit loves the blog. She thinks I'm 'so sweet and enthusiastic and full of love'.Yes, I am still reeling from that happening. It was such an uplifting, positive, wonderful e-mail to come home to after work that I didn't stop smiling for days after. While they did ask that I not share the recipes (since they're copyrighted to Saltyard Books), they loved that I'm planning to give the book a good testing. I really can't think of any other way to thank them for such a mid-week boost. So today, we're going to talk about jam making.

I promise they were redder than that. Damn night time photography.

But first! Let me tell you about my relationship with strawberries.

Strawberries back home are on the expensive side. They cost five times more what they cost in the UK and don't taste...well...they just don't taste of anything really. They don't smell of anything either. I ate them purely because they were exotic...but secretly would crave mangoes while trying to swallow their sour red juices. In a world of papayas, mangoes and a smorgasbord of bananas, strawberries emerge as the 'exotic fruit' redolent of pale skinned, golden haired strangers in lands far away. But in comparison to the juicy longans you could get at the market for a fraction of the price, they seemed a little...blah.

This summer, things changed. The first time I tasted a summer strawberry my world exploded. Color became sound, sound became color the sky split and fireworks went off behind my eyes.  Ok, none of those things happened. But let me tell you it was pretty damn close. Finally. THIS was what all the fuss was about. I got it now. All the hype made sense.

I have spent the past two months gorging on strawberries. These big, juicy rubies have stained my lips and dribbled their juices down my chin and fingers on an almost daily basis. But ( as all good things) summer is coming to an end, and it's taking strawberries with it. In an attempt to bottle my British summer, I tried making the strawberry and rose jam from The Baking Book. Itamar did say at the book launch that if you try ANYTHING in this book, please please please make our jam.
And I can see why.


I mean, ok. I have consumed many a jar of commercial jam (Hey Mrs. Bridges! Hello Bonne Maman! How's it going?) before. I have also consumed many home made strawberry jams, lovingly made in big pots by watchful home cooks. But see.... they always just tastes of...well...strawberries. And yes, that is what you ask for when you buy strawberry jam. But it's always just...strawberry. Good...straight up...strawberry.

This jam has ruined me. and the secret touch? Roses. They put rose petals and rose water into the jam. Just...just what? That sweet floral note just makes this jam. It gives your nose something else to concentrate on besides sugar cooked strawberries and rounds out the sweetness of the actual jam. But it's not cloying. There's just enough rose water to get things going.

 I want to bathe in this stuff. I want to smear it on my face. The perfume is unbelievable. My house smells divine. The kitchen and living room have been perfumed with strawberries and roses....this is what Valentine's Day should smell like.

That bubbled up to 3x it's original volume. It was intense.

Making jam is not for the faint of heart. That's not meant to turn you off. Do it. It'll put a little gumption in your soul. And really most of the jam making adventure is stress free, if not a little tedious. Be careful, hulling and preparing that much fruit may give you a sore wrist. Just go slow and take breaks. And read the recipe, the WHOLE recipe at least twice. I missed Sarit's jam making 101 at the beginning of the chapter and that made things a little hectic.  Imagine haphazardly stirring hot sugar and frantically reading how to test if your jam is cooked enough and then burning yourself and running to put plates in the freezer...just...just read the recipe ok? Read it twice. At least twice. You've been forewarned.

The really scary bit is when you start cooking the jam. Sarit insists on boiling at the highest heat possible which makes the mixture bubble up to over twice it's original volume. Play it safe and use the biggest, heaviest bottomed pot you have. And don't fill it to more than 1/2 full. Once you get over the fear of your jam bubbling over and catching on fire it all becomes quite fun. Nothing will make you feel more witchy than stirring a cauldron full of bubbling goo.

Bottled and ready to go!

And that's it! Divide into your sterilized bottles and let them sit on the counter overnight to make sure they seal properly. Spread over warm bread or save it for the winter months when the sun has gone down at 3p.m. and you need a reminder that it was ever there at all.

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