Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Microwave Fig Jam

I have been out of action for a while due to having a spot of minor surgery which has seriously curtailed my ‘pottering about’ activities. As a consequence of which I have not spent much time in the garden and have taken my eye off the ball when it comes to feeding some plants and harvesting fruit. My lemons decided at some point last week that they were not happy and at least three have committed suicide, not sure if any are left as it’s a bit difficult for me to get to them. I also discovered that a load of my figs should have been harvested and were about to drop into the emergency cat litter tray in the porch.

Consequently I found myself with 11 rather small Petit Negri figs and a bit of a dilemma, as this wasn’t really enough to make anything like a tart or any other recipe I had that involved figs. I spent a while Googling ‘Figs’ in the hope of finding something that would use up the meagre handful I had, and eventually came across this recipe for Microwave fig jam with orange and rosemary. (Lots of nice pix which is good as I forgot to take any) As usual I never have quite the right ingredients and didn’t want to mess about with American measurements so this is my version, for what its worth. Whilst I do have the brilliant Pam (the Jam) Corbin’s book on Preserves, I don’t have any of the kit like a Maslin pans, funnels or a thermometer required to make jam on the kind of scale that Pam's recipes dictate. So this microwave technique seemed a brilliant idea for making just one or two jars of jam in a hurry with a handful of gash fruit that needed sorting out quick before they went off.

I don’t think the actual measurements here are that important, just the proportions of the fruit to the sugar and acid (citrus). I later discovered (too late in fact) that Pam Corbin’s book says you need 60% sugar in order to kick start the preservative action of the sugar in a jam. I only used about 42% here so I doubt it will keep for that long, but as it only makes one jar which I intend to eat straight away I doubt that it’s relevant. You have been warned.

Ingredients:

300g of figs and plums, stalks removed and roughly chopped. I had 11 small figs to which I added a couple of plums which had sat in the fruit basket all week and refused to get any softer. Figs have low natural amounts of pectin so I made sure that the fruit I used to bulk it up were high in pectin, in this case plums. Luckily the orange needed for the acidic element is also high in pectin.

300g of sugar. I used 200g granulated and 100g of Demerara. Either way it needs to be equal to weight of your fig/plum mix.

100g of orange, peeled, de-seeded and roughly chopped. (Needs to be 1/3 of the weight of sugar.)

The zest of the orange.

The juice of a lemon.

¼ teaspoon ground ginger.

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon.

A small knob or about ½ teaspoon of butter.

About 10 leaves from a fresh sprig of rosemary chopped finely.

I found a small muslin spice bag and put another big sprig of Rosemary and 4-5 cloves in.

Method:

Add all the ingredients to a basin/glass bowl or large Pyrex measuring jug and leave for an hour or so for the sugar to start to draw out all the juices from the fruit. Also at this time put a clean saucer into the fridge to chill.

Give everything a stir, cover with cling film and stick in the microwave for 15-18 minutes. Keep an eye on it and as soon as it starts to boil (about 5-6 minutes) take it out for a bit of a stir. Also if you used one then take the muslin spice bag out at this point. Continue the cooking, taking it out and stirring every minute or so. Don't do what I did and get distracted otherwise you'll come back to find its boiled over and your microwave is a sticky mess. Ahem.

After about 12-13 mins cooking time it should be starting to thicken up and reduce and get more viscous. This is where the chilled saucer comes in. Put a teaspoon of the jam onto the saucer and leave it for a couple of minutes, then smear it with your finger. If it wrinkles up then its reached the setting point, if its still runny continue to zap it a few more minutes. I had to keep giving mine 30 second blasts until it had been cooking for about 18 minutes when it finally reached setting point. Pour it into a sterilised jar (I use the dishwasher to sterilse jars on the hottest setting). Ideally it needs to be filled to within about ¼ inch from the top of the jar. When cool it can go into a cupboard and once opened keep in the fridge. I'm guessing you'll probably only be able to keep it for about a week or two but as I only made enough to fill a 360g jam jar I doubt it'll last that long anyway.

P.S. In the cold light of day, and on the warm toast of breakfast, I realise that I do not like bits in my jam. The flavour of the jam between the lumps is great; I just wish the whole thing was smooth and homogenous. Next time I try this I would definitely blitz up the fruit in a food processor or liquidiser before the adding sugar stage.