One of my colleagues at the school where I work is a homey type from Yorkshire. He does things that you’d expect a real Yorkshireman to do, like woodturning and making jam. I’m especially interested in the latter. Every week, more or less, he brings in a new type of jam for us to try. I’m not especially fond of jam as it’s usually too sweet, but this man understands the art of jam making – he avoids putting in too much sugar, and he adds all kinds of funky flavours to jazz his confitures up a little bit. Sometimes he brings in really weird stuff (like kiwi jam), sometimes he brings in a classic (like raspberry), and sometimes, he brings in something that’s just outta this world.
One particularly outta this world jam was his apple and pear preserve. He brought some in a few weeks ago and as soon as I shoved a spoonful into my greedy mouth, I was sold. It blew my mind. It was so sweet and yet spicy, delicate and yet flavoursome. It had everything. “If you put a jar like this on a shelf at Eataly, you can easily get 8 euros for it.” I told him. “This shit has to go on cheese. In fact, I never want to eat cheese without this again.”And it’s true. It had such a sophisticated flavour, I swear you could put this on a fancy cheese platter and people would be dead impressed. He seemed happy with the praise, and suggested “Well, why don’t you put it on your blog? It’s really easy to make!”
You legend. Don’t mind if I do!
So the secret ingredients to this preserve right here are ginger powder and nutmeg. Do not be tempted to add cinnamon, you’ll have Christmas in a jar. Really, just nutmeg and ginger and it’ll be perfect. And if you’re desperate to be original, like me, put in just a wee bit of lemon juice, to balance out the sweetness.
So for about 3 or 4 jars (or 1 kg of jam), go out and procure the following items:
- half a kilo of apples
- half a kilo of pears
- 3 tsp of ginger powder
- 3 tsp of ground nutmeg
- 500 gr sugar
- 1 sachet of pectin, I used 2:1 but it’s up to you
As preparation, put a few spoons in the freezer. I’m not pulling your leg, really, do it. You’ll find out why soon.
So wash and grate your apples and pears. I grated the apples around the core, but the pears I just grated right through the middle because their cores are pathetic.
Chuck all of it in a pot together – fruit, pectin, sugar, spices and possibly lime juice. Put it on a lively fire and stir for about 3 minutes. Now here’s where the frozen spoons come in: you need to check if your jam is the right consistency yet. With whatever spoon you’re using to stir the jam, drop a little bit of jam onto a frozen spoon and leave to cool for a few seconds. Then prod it a little bit: if it’s jellyish, it’s A-OK! If it’s still runny, it needs more heat and stirring.
Slather all over all your cheese and eat whilst making satisfied noises.