Jellies and jams; or, how to avoid making a mess at all

The jellies were blooming perfect. The quince jelly is a beautiful orangey-pink; more orange than the burnish on the fruits. The apple jelly turned into a lovely transluscent marmalade colour, and all was okay.

How we did it: clean jam jars went into the oven (around 80-100 degrees) in a roasting tin to sterilise them. We measured the juice, and added a pound (lb) of sugar (ordinary sugar, no wasted money on preserving or jam sugar!) and boiled up the mixture in a giant jam pan (not necessary, any pan will do it) with the heat on high. You skim the white froth off the top as it forms. That way the jelly is nice and clear at the end.

in the giant jam panWe dipped a wooden spoon into the pan (many times, over and over), and held it on its side, watched the syrup run off, and waited for the moment it clagged just enough for us to see the drip form in slow motion. Not too slow – the drip starts to form, and it’s like someone turns the speed down just at that moment. (Using an actual dial, like an old TV channel changer).

By the time we’d got the jars out of the oven onto the table (still in the roasting tin), and found a small jug and a side plate, the spoon-dipping produced a heavier drip which formed slowly. The jelly was ready.

jellies on the shelfThe next bit is simple! We poured the syrup into the clean jars, topped each one with a wax disc (shiny side down), and lidded them with a clear cellophane disc and an elastic band. Last up was the labelling. And carefully wiping the jars down with a hot, damp cloth (do it immediately, it comes off better). (Don’t burn fingers).

Of course everything is simpler in hindsight, but it was fun and I learned loads. You can only learn by doing, sometimes.

If you really don’t feel you can go through the hassle of making your own jam, you should still take advantage of this season’s epic fruitfulness. Nana Day’s Preserves are made here in Eden (you just know they’re gonna be good), with old-time techniques that people have always used to make jams, chutneys and Other Interesting Yumminess.

It’s all about seasonal fruits, Nana Day's Award Winning Ruby Red Marmaladeand getting the best flavour. The difference in taste between Nana Day’s and mass produced brands will amaze you. They won the Silver Award at the World Marmalade Awards for their Ruby Red Marmalade, so they’re well worth a spoonful on your morning toast.

PS: We (I) picked the quinces a month too early. I feel stupid but the jelly we got was superb. I haven’t made the quince cheese yet, largely because it is olive green instead of orange, and my heart isn’t in it. Maybe Friday.