My jam of choice is ginger and we keep a jar of Fortnum and Mason's rather excellent ginger preserve in the fridge. However when I was preparing my breakfast the other day I found that Steve had finished off the jam and put the empty jar back in the fridge. I resorted to Jif extra crunchy peanut butter (Note 1) with my toast but as I ate it I wondered what would happen if Fortnum's stopped making ginger jam; would the world stop revolving? Would stock markets crash? Would I make my own ginger jam? The first two are inevitable results of a ginger jam crisis but the third... maybe I could avert the crisis single-handedly by creating my own version.
My version contains lemons as I wanted to be sure that the jam would set and lemons are naturally high in pectin (the agent that facilitates the setting of jam). As a result my jam is less sweet than Fortnum's and the heat from the ginger is offset by the tartness of the lemons. So far everyone that has tasted it loves it - I hope you do too.
Note 1: Thanks to my dear friend Liz in Dallas for keeping me supplied with the only peanut butter brand that I will eat.
- 3 unwaxed lemons
- 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 200 millilitres water
- 110 grams fresh root ginger - peeled and coarsely grated
- 1 tablespoon liquid fruit pectin
- 400 grams granulated white sugar (note 2)
Preparation and cooking time: 90 minutes
- The first step is to sterilize the jar. Set your oven to 140 degrees centigrade. Now wash your jar in soapy water and rinse in clean warm water. Leave it to drip-dry, upside down, on a rack in the oven for at least half an hour while you make the jam.
- Using a sharp knife remove the zest from the lemons in strips taking care to avoid the white pith.
- Cut each strip into thin slices. The size of the slices is up to you. Think about it in terms of marmalade and whether you like thin, medium or thick cut shreds.
- Place the sliced zest in a small saucepan. Add the bicarbonate of soda and water.
- Heat the contents of the pan on a high heat and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and let the contents simmer for five minutes or until the peel has softened.
- Remove the pan from the heat and leave to one side.
- Returning to the lemons, cut away the white pith to expose the lemon segments.
- Now, work over a large bowl and cut away the membrane. Place the remaining lemon segments in the bowl but take care to remove any seeds.
- Place the lemon segments and juice in the pan with the lemon peel and water.
- Add the grated ginger and liquid pectin to the pan and stir well.
- Heat the pan over a high heat and bring the contents to a boil stirring constantly.
- Add the sugar and stir again. Keep the contents of the pan boiling furiously such that they are bubbling and rolling. It is essential to keep stirring at this point to stop the contents of the pan burning.
- You need to continue boiling and stirring until the jam has reached it's "setting point". You can identify this in two ways:
- when the liquid jam has reached 105 degrees centigrade. You can test this using a confectioner's thermometer (aka sugar or candy thermometer). From experience I recommend investing in an electronic one for accuracy but only if you are likely to use it regularly.
- place a large drop of jam on a cold plate and place the plate in the refrigerator. Remove the pan from the heat during this test as you don't want the liquid jam to burn. Once the jam on the plate has cooled (should be no more than 2-4 minutes) push the jam with your finger. If the surface wrinkles and the jam doesn't overflow where you pushed it it has reached setting point.
- the liquid jam did not reach setting point
- there was not enough pectin in the mixture to achieve a set.