Jamming With Carla!

Somehow, in the space of less than a year, I’ve transformed into an earnest WI type before my own eyes. That’s not an insult to Women’s Institute members – I think local social clubs offering talks, cookery demonstrations, craft workshops and cake cook-offs are actually pretty cool*. But I have in mind here the (no doubt very out-of-date) stereotype of the diligent and industrious jam and cake maker.

It’s a shock. Who’d ever have thought I’d become so addicted that I’d start to feel the itch of withdrawal if I didn’t preserve anything for a few weeks? Not me! But that’s what’s happened!

In June last year, excluding childhood days in the kitchen helping mum make strawberry jam after a day at the PYO farm (approximately 30 years ago and I really wasn’t much help!) I had never made my own jam or chutney or marmalade or ketchup or pickle! But I started with a bang when my mum, my cousin and I got to work making a marvellous selection of goodies for my one-off market stall. And then I made numerous pickles, chutneys, ketchups and jams, mainly from produce in the garden (and a gift box of mangoes). I only blogged a couple of those!

So, now, even though market day has long since come and gone I still have a larder full of jars! Pete has reached a point where he glares at me if I suggest making anything else, especially since I tend to rope him in to help me!

But when a fellow food blogger friend of mine tweeted about making clementine and rosewater marmalade, I couldn’t help but sigh wistfully and wish I were joining her. And to my delight, Carla (who canbebribedwithfood) invited me over to hers for a Sunday of making jam and flapjacks together. Bliss! Instead of deciding in advance exactly what jams we’d make I went fruit shopping the day before to buy whatever looked lovely and was well-priced. Carla would provide brunch and the makings of (some very good) flapjacks!

On a bit of a whim, I bought a 2 kilo box of fresh lychees (thinking they’d go ever so nicely with Carla’s rosewater, even though I’d never heard of lychee jam and had no idea whether it would work). And I bought 2 kilos of apricots, seduced by the idea of a traditional French confiture d’abricot which I do so love on fresh crusty white baguette with slatherings of good butter!

After a very fine brunch indeed of freshly baked, home-made parmesan cheese muffins (it was Cheese Sunday!) and oeufs en cocotte with smoked salmon, leeks and crème fraiche we got to work.

Peeling lychees to eat is quick. I know this because I can sit and go through a bag of them in next to no time, peeling the skin in seconds, popping the whole fruit into my mouth and evicting the little brown stone moments later. Peeling and chopping lychees to go into jam, and trying to remove that dark brown tough little bit of skin on the inside, is a pain in the proverbial! But before too long we had a kilo of chopped lychee plus the juice from our chopping boards that we also poured into the pan.

Slightly alarmed, the night before Jam Sunday, by the lack of lychee jam recipes I could find on the interwebs, I’d twittered for help tracking down more recipes and gratefully received the advice to search in French on confiture de litchis, as this is a very popular jam in French-speaking places such as Réunion. Bingo! Carla and I cobbled together amounts from reading a few of the recipes I’d bookmarked and got cooking (see below for weights/ ingredients). The lychee fruits took a long time to soften, and never broke down as much as some fruits do, but the mass of fruit and sugar did, eventually, produce 4 jars of rather tasty lychee and rosewater jam. We added the rosewater in right at the end, just before bottling.

Stoning, halving and dicing the apricots was far, far quicker work. We left the skin on as it was so soft. The apricots were quite sharp – just right for jam making as we both like apricot jam with a good balance between sweet and sharp. Again, we amalgamated a number of online recipes and it wasn’t long before apricots, sugar, lemon juice and pectin were cooking away on the stove top. (Again, see below for weights/ ingredients).

Whilst the apricot jam cooked, Carla made the flapjacks and popped them into the oven. As she bottled the finished jam (which tasted just like the traditional french jam I had been dreaming of) I screwed on the lids. Unfortunately, one popped open on me just as I’d closed it, the burning jam spilled out and lead to my dropping the open jar onto the floor. Whilst it landed almost upright, globules of hot jam shot into the air and all over Carla’s worktop and washing machine, splattered my hair, my apron, my (dry-clean) cardigan sleeves, my jeans and the floor and Carla’s arms too. I was shocked to find so much jam still in the jar when I rescued it back up onto the worktop! Gah! How embarassing – first time visiting a friend’s house, being invited to share her kitchen, and splashing hot jam all over it! As anyone who has met Carla will know, she’s very sweet and gracious and she completely took it in her stride and we’d soon finished filling the rest of the jars, a whopping 14 of them!

Still, sitting in the living room and eating hot, freshly baked flapjacks made from burnt honey and dark brown sugar… oh that was wonderful! And even better, I went home with a bag of flapjacks, 7 jars of apricot jam, 2 of lychee and rosewater jam and one of Carla’s clementine and rosewater marmalade, swapped for a jar of my nectarine and amaretto jam!

Thank you, Carla, for a lovely day!

Lychee & Rosewater Jam

1 kilo lychee
600 grams sugar
juice of one orange
pectin
rosewater (to taste)

Apricot Jam

2 kilos apricot flesh
1800 grams sugar (or to taste, depending on ripeness of apricots)
juice of 2 lemons (or to taste, depending on ripeness of apricots)
pectin

*During the writing of this blog post, I’ve actually visited the WI website. I’d like to find out more with a view to potentially joining!

Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!
16 Comments to "Jamming With Carla!"

  1. S

    a lychee jam? what the HELL why why why has this not been discovered in Pakistan yet- we have such amazing lychees there 🙁 sadness all around, Kavey 🙁 however, i am so amazed and pleased to have found this recipe, the jam looks TO DIE FOR, i'd love to have a dollop on vanilla ice cream (sorry if that sounds really gross). love that you provided the recipe, shall fwd to anyone and everyone in Pakistan who adores to cook. xoxo shayma

    Reply
  2. Fiona-Mayhem

    Hello,

    I have just found the blog, and I am very curious, why do you leave your jam to set upside down? I have seen it in a lot of your pictures. I make loads of jams and chutneys, and have never seen this done before.

    Thanks in advance

    FM

    Reply
  3. Foodycat

    Do you have to take your clothes off to join the modern WI? The apricot jam looks lovely, but I think lychees are stinky slimy eyeballs that are only good for compost, so I will leave that one all to you!

    Reply
  4. Kavey

    Sorry for late replies folks, have been away travelling for 4 weeks (had pre-written several posts to go live whilst away).

    Shayma, apparently lychee jam is very popular in La Reunion which also has lots of lychees. Hope you try the recipe and like it too! Do please let me know!

    Fiona, I don't leave them to set upside down but just for a few minutes, turning them as soon after putting the lid on firmly as possible. It's a tip from a friend who's been making jam for decades and tells me it helps create an even better seal. But I do turn them back after just a few minutes so the mixture is still runny enough to settle back down into the bottom of the jar otherwise I'd be left with the gap at the bottom which happened to one jar I missed turning back over in an earlier batch of jam!

    FoodyCat, ha haaa, I'll ask them!

    Meem, grin!

    Reply
  5. Fiona-Mayhem

    Kavey – thanks for your reply, I will try to remember to do it come the summer, and check it out for myself, but does this mean you do not use the waxed discs? I hope that you enjoyed your travels.

    Reply
  6. Kavey

    Hi Fiona
    I don't use the wax discs. I read that they weren't necessary for the metal screw-on lids as these create a proper seal.

    Reply
  7. Jane

    I just made a batch of the lychee jam. It was just delicious! I wonder if the texture would be better if the lychees were blended first? I'm also pondering the uses for this delicate flavor other than ice cream? A layer in a cake of some sort? Any thoughts?

    Reply
  8. Kavey

    Jane, I think blending them first would be a GREAT idea, yes yes yes! I'm so glad you liked your jam, thank you for letting me know!

    Reply
  9. Irna

    I want to find out how to make preserved lychees like the canned syrupy chinese lychees. My mother in law has 100's of kilos of lychees in her orchard and since there is a glut on the market they are going to waste!

    Reply
  10. Kristen

    Hi Kavey,

    Could you please specify is you used 1 kilo of lychees whole or peeled and pitted for the jam recipe?

    Loved this post!

    Thanks in advance,

    Kristen

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Hi Kristen, I believe it was the weight of the peeled and seeded fruit, as that’s how I wrote the other recipe on the same day and the amount of sugar sounds about right as i do remember them being really sweet lychees. I’m not 100% on that though, I’d say I’m 90% sure. Sorry, it was so long ago. I’m much better at being more explicit when I write recipes these days!

    Reply
  11. Sarah

    Hi Kavey,
    I tried making my own lychee jam the other day, but they are separating and not really gelling up 🙁 In what order did you boil/add the ingredients? Trying to figure out what went wrong! Thanks!
    -Sarah

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Sarah I’m really sorry but it’s too long ago for me to remember more detail than I wrote down. These days I’m far better at writing more detailed methods but this was an early post on Kavey Eats!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    That said, the fruit doesn’t collapse into mush like some fruits, it does remain quite chunky once cooked.

    Reply

Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *