We were invited to a friend’s house to pick some of their mulberries. Mulberry trees are an important part of growing up in Australia. They are where you go to find food for your silk worms. They provide sweet purple snacks that require you to strip down to undies to pick and eat them. The fruit has also been utilised as war paint (remember, mum made you take your t-shirt off so she did not have to try and get the fruit stains out later – so your chest is ready for purple adornment). My grandma had one in her yard we used to visit after swimming in the pool (already in our swimmers, not much damage possible when we were about to jump back in again!), my house had one, my husband’s house had one – they really were part of the childhood landscape.
Anyhow, we were invited to a friend’s house to pick some of their mulberries and so we did. We also had yummy mulberry smoothies and delicious home-made flat bread (that you can cook in an a sandwich press! Amazing!) and fruit and ice cream slice. The food was lovely and the catching up was too but we were left with mulberries that needed cooking … so it was Sonya to the rescue.
She has made jam before. Lots. I have too, but only one batch and it was almost toffee not really jam. Here is what I learned about jam making.
1/3 frozen lemon grated
1. Ideally freeze the mulberries first so you can snap the stalks off easily. Pick through the mulberries and make sure they are all good and any insects excited about the fruit have been removed!
2. Add the berries, sugar and lemon to a big saucepan. Simmer gently and mash the fruit with a potato masher.
3. Bring the boil till the jam begins to thicken, keep taking a small amount out and testing to see how thick it is. We were going for thick and syrupy, not gel-ed.
4. When the mixture is less runny and slightly darker, but is still liquid … that is about ready.
5. We sterilised our jars by dipping them in boiling water – just for home use, we did not aim for commercial sanitisation!
6. Using a homemade baking paper funnel (a revolution according to Sonya!), fill the jars with jam. Seal.
7. Alternatively, make bread and eat it hot out of the oven with the new jam and butter … that’s what we did! Either way, find some way to show off your productive and domestic labours and share it with those you love!
I know that it is clichéd but making something like jam can provide such a huge sense of achievement, the glossy bottles all in a row, something beautiful you made and can share. I really would recommend finding a friend and having a go!