Apple & Ginger Jam
– First Preserves by Vivien Lloyd –
I love preserves, both making them and eating them; I am an avid jam, jelly, marmalade, curd, chutney and pickles maker and every year when the soft fruits and orchard fruits are in season, I can be found cutting, chopping, weighing, measuring and stirring in my “jam factory” in the old stable block at the back of the house! I have several books on preserves which I sometimes turn to for ideas and inspiration, but I would have loved to have had this book 25 years ago when I first ventured into making my own jams and chutneys, as it is a veritable treasure of handy tips, methods and with fabulous recipes too. The title says it all really, “First Preserves – Marmalades, Jams and Chutneys” and the book is devoted to these three main areas of preserving.
The book is well set out with chapters covering the making of jams, marmalades and chutneys, as well as extra chapters and sub-sections about preserving history, necessary equipment, suppliers, weights and measures as well as handy notes on preparing your home-made efforts for competitions and preserves records at the back of the book. Vivien Lloyd, the author of this fabulous book, has 25 years of making and demonstrating award-winning preserves and 18 years of judging preserves at competitions under her belt, and her clear and authoritative voice is evident throughout the book. Indeed she has won numerous first prizes for her preserve and in 2008 she won “Best of the Best” for her Seville orange marmalade at the World’s Original Marmalade Festival.
The first chapter covers all aspects of Marmalade making and comprises: preparation and all the stages of soaking, simmering, adding the sugar, the “set” as well as how to fill the jars and of course the recipes. Amongst the marmalade recipes in the book is Vivien’s prize-winning Seville orange marmalade as well as numerous other delicious sounding recipes such as Merry Marmalade, Tangerine and Lemon Marmalade, Dark and Chunky and Lemon and Lime Marmalade. There are handy step-by-step photographs and instructions for all aspects of marmalade preparation and cooking, which will prove invaluable to the marmalade novice, and demonstrate in a visual way how the sweet preserve should look at various stages.
The second chapter covers Jam; the chapter covers every stage from preparation to the finished product with added tips about suitable fruit for jam making and the history of jam making, which I found fascinating as I am a lover of all things traditional and often write about historical recipes, customs and traditions myself. The recipes in this section were innovative and I particularly liked the sound of the Apple and Ginger Jam, Blackberry and Apple Jam as well as the Tutti-Frutti Jam. I eventually made the Apple and Ginger Jam and was delighted with the results; the jam has subsequently graced my tea time-table on various occasions and has been served with toast, crumpets, scones as well as a pancake filling.
The third chapter covers Chutney, probably my favourite of all preserves. I make chutney throughout the year and use it in just about all of my cooking and baking. The chapter is split into several sections once again covering the history of chutney, spices, ingredients, information on relish and chutney as well as some lovely sounding recipes. The recipes that leapt out at me straight away were Damson, Ginger and Cardamom Chutney, Apricot and Orange Chutney and Green Tomato and Banana Chutney. I have the first and last chutneys on my “to make” list when the relevant fruits are in season, but in the meantime, I made the Apricot and Orange chutney as it uses dried apricots and also has ginger in the list of ingredients, which I am very fond of! The result was fabulous citrus chutney with wonderful depth and layers of different flavours – it has already adorned several meals already to include a fine Welsh rarebit and a Ploughman’s Lunch.
The last chapters of this book cover Competitions – how to prepare for entering your preserves in to competitions, the judging and common faults in jams, marmalades and chutneys. I found this section very helpful, and again Vivien is very knowledgeable about this aspect of preserves, as she is a judge for many national and regional competitions. Following on from this section is a handy fruit chart for jams and chutneys and the book ends with suggested suppliers, weights and measures, acknowledgements, some useful preserves records for recording your successes and awards at competitions, as well as an index listing all the recipes and salient points throughout the book.
Vivien’s passion for safe-guarding this age-old way of preserving fruit as well as trying to save and promote traditional recipes is evident throughout the book and for me, this gave the book a wonderful warm and friendly feel as well as imparting something very precious, something that we all ought to try to preserve (excuse the pun), making sure that age-old traditional recipes are not passed over in favour of more modern interpretations. I fully endorse this book; as an experienced preserver, it supported my existing knowledge of preserving whilst also providing me with hitherto unknown facts and provided exciting new recipes for me to try. For the novice, the book provides a wealth of information, as well as handy step-by-step instructions and photos, and all explained in simple layman’s terms, plus, there are some wonderful recipes that are aimed at all levels of preservers.
If I could go back to when I first started making preserves, this would have been the only book I would have needed for making jams, chutneys and marmalade – it is authoritative, interesting and would be the perfect handbook for any aspiring preserver and for those wishing to enter into competitions.
NB: I am showcasing Vivien’s lovely Apple and Ginger Jam today, and she very kindly allowed me to post her recipe here; the Orange and Apricot chutney will be featured on my blog next week, so do look out for it.
Recipe reproduced below with kind permission from Vivien Lloyd.