Making the best of it.

It’s been wet and gloomy here the last couple of days. The rain is desperately needed with soil and water butts alike dry and dusty. However the warmth and moisture has lured all the slimey munching beasties above ground and I live in fear of my crops that last week were looking thirsty but intact, and this week may end up quenched and gobbled.

IMG_3774All of which is making me even more smug about having had the forethought to frantically pick our soft fruit and preserve it. From mid-summer often until late November I spend most of my free time ferrying  between the garden and kitchen furiously trying to make the most of the harvests we’ve been patiently tending since January. This time of year is an odd one, with some plants giving up their bounty almost too readily, whilst others seem painfully far away from giving us anything at all.

Whilst I try to keep my eyes from the cucumbers (a watched cucurbit never crops) and pretend I don’t care about tomatoes, the loganberry is at it’s showy best. Having been established now for almost two years and growing at an alarming rate it is producing berries left, right and centre. We’re three harvests into it’s year and have had over 4kg of fruit already with plenty more on the plant. As a result we’ve not only eaten mounds of them slathered in whipped cream and sweetened with chunks of meringue, but also had enough to make my favourite summer preserve, loganberry jam.

IMG_3781Loganberry jam is easy to make and produces the most beautiful, rich, wine-coloured preserve that intensifies the complex flavour of the berry that is a hybrid of a blackberry and raspberry. I make mine with as little sugar as I can get away with, and it keeps us going until well into the winter providing a well needed splash of colour on toast, in yoghurt and even between a sponge cake.

Loganberry jam – makes approx 6 x 240g (1/2 lb) jars

1kg loganberries

500g sugar

Juice of one lemon

Preheat the oven to 140C (280F) and rinse your jars in hot water and place on a baking tray on a middle shelf whilst you make the jam to sterilise. Place the caps in bowl and pour boiling water over then to do the same. Place a small plate in the freezer for testing set.

Rinse the loganberries well and place in a large wide saucepan. Cook gently, stirring occasionally until soft and they’ve released all their juices. The add the lemon juice and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. The bring up to a roiling boil and watch as over around 7 minutes the bubbles change from small and liquid to large and glassy. Try not to stir if possible as this lower the temperature and means it will take longer to set. Remove the jam from the heat and place a small amount on the plate from the freezer, place into the fridge for a couple of minutes to cool. Push your finger into the pool of jam and if it wrinkles it’s set, if not re-boil for a couple of minutes and repeat.

Pot into hot jars and seal immediately. Jam should keep for around 6 months in a cool dark place, and once opened needs to be placed in the fridge and eaten within a month.

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