On Tuesday when I was making jam I got a text saying “Don’t put the jeely pan away, I’ve been picking crab apples” and on Wednesday morning, just in time for tea and scones with newly made jam, my friend arrived with a bucket of red crab apples. In the afternoon after the obligatory dog walking I got the jam pan out and set to while listening to Radio 4.
Once they were weighed I cut them in half and added 1pint of water per pound of fruit.
Then they were simmered until they were soft and the juice was running, the juice at this point is pale pink and cloudy.
Then the apples and juice were tipped into the jelly bag to drip overnight.
In the morning the juice is measured and poured back into the jam pan with 1lb of sugar and 2tablespoons of lemon juice for every pint of crab apple juice. This mixture is simmered until all the sugar dissolves and then boiled for about 10 minutes until a set is achieved. While the juice is cooking I put the washed jars and lids in the top oven to sterilise . When the jam is at setting point the jars come out of the oven and the beautiful red jelly is carefully ladled into them. and left to cool. The jelly is delicious with cheese (or cold meats) and can be stirred into a casserole to add flavour and colour. It can also be eaten on bread, toast, scones and crumpets or a spoonful added to yoghurt. Alternatively you can just put the jars near the window and admire the sun shining through it!
I know it is technically still summer, we’ve even had a few warm sunny days in the last week but in my kitchen it is definitely autumn. Not for me the yellows, oranges and browns often associated with autumn but instead the rich rubies and scarlets, dusty blues and deep deep purples of the autumnal jam pan. Yes, it’s that happy time of year again when our morning walks include a stop at the bramble bushes to forage for brambles, the blueberry bush in the garden has been stripped of its crop and I’m keeping my eyes open for bargain buys at the greengrocers. This afternoon I stripped the blueberry bush (and slightly sadly bought a small punnet of blueberries to supplement the home grown supply) and then spent an enjoyable time making my first pots of homemade (and almost home grown) blueberry jam. The smell was delicious, the dogs came and lay at my feet sniffing the air as the berries burst and released their blue/purple juices. A couple of wasps flew in to the kitchen and were hurriedly encouraged to look elsewhere for sweet treats.
The recipe I used is as follows:
500g caster sugar
the juice of a lemon
Wash and dry the blueberries and remove any stems and leaves, put the blueberries, sugar and the juice of the lemon into a pan and bring to a gentle simmer until the sugar melts. Increase the heat to a steady boil for about 20 minutes, test for a set then remove from the heat and pour into sterilised jars. Cover and cool before labelling. Don’t forget to retain a spoonful in the pan for a celebratory slice of bread and jam!
Once the blueberry jam was made and poured into jars I began the bramble jelly preparations, rinsing the fruit and simmering it gently to release as much juice as possible before pouring the deep red mixture into the jelly bag to strain. tomorrow I’ll cook the juice with sugar and a little lemon juice until it reaches setting point.
A few months ago I wrote about a new challenge I was facing as my ParaThyroid Hormone levels were soaring and as a result I was advised to change my diet quite substantially. I saw a dietician who wasn’t desperately helpful and in frustration bought myself a couple of books on renal diet and worked out my own scheme. On Monday I was back at the hospital for the usual collection of blood tests and tonight got some very pleasing results. My PTH levels have fallen from 56.1 to 32.4 pmol/l (normal would be below 22 pmol/l for someone with CKD but with controlled Calcium and Phosphate levels) and my egfr (kidney function) is back up to 10%! I am still in the final stages of kidney failure (below 15% egfr) but any improvement is worth celebrating.