Want to use up your (or someone else’s) garden bounty? »
Then you need Not Just Jam by Matthew Evans
By Alison Ferry
This wonderfully presented preserving book is full of easy-to-follow recipes. My dabble into jam making has only been recent and the thing that previously scared me off trying was sterilisation.
Such a simple thing yet so important, as for some reason I’m not keen on my preserves being the death of me! I know it’s extremely unlikely but for so long jam making was something I put off because of this one element.
Matthew’s book explains the methods of sterilisation very simply and these are probably the best step-by-step techniques I have read.
So, my foray into preserving begins. I have been converted into adding microwave sterilisation into my repertoire for small batches. Not Just Jam has also made me keen to try pasteurisation, a method I will surely need if this year’s tomato crop is anything like last year.
For the review of this book I tried a few recipes and was very happy with the results. Preserving just opens so many more options for capturing the best of produce for use all year round.
I made the Rhubarb and Rose Jam in a flash. I didn’t need to use pectin so like most jam books there is a degree of personal judgement involved. The rhubarb was given to me by a friend and I usually only do two things with rhubarb, so adding jam to my options was great, and it’s not sitting in the bottom of the fridge waiting for me and sending out guilt vibes.
With so much fresh produce about now, this is the perfect time to add this book to your collection. Capture summer in a bottle and share it with friends. I went to a strawberry farm with the intention of getting berries to make one of the recipes, but um… we ate all the berries.
I did have trouble with one recipe, Michele’s insanely good Blackcurrant Curd. I couldn’t get the sugar to dissolve in the butter, so I emailed the author for assistance. I got a very quick response to “just carry on” with the recipe, which was what I was going to do but felt a bit reluctant in case it didn’t turn out and I wasted ingredients. The sugar incorporated with the other ingredients resulting in a smooth, tasty curd. I love that they were approachable and friendly.
I have just sourced a huge amount of lemons, so will be trying Park’s Lemon Chutney. It looks dark and very thick, and uses six lemons. The best part about this recipe is that it actually instructs that a level of inattention is required, the opposite of most preserving techniques!
I am also very keen to try two of the mustard recipes, French-style Mustard and Wholegrain Apple Cider Mustard. The science behind mustard making intrigues me; if you ever get free time I really recommend looking into it. I’m inclined to halve these recipes as I don’t anticipate getting through over kilogram and a half of mustard very quickly, however. Good gifts, perhaps?
As the title says, it’s not just jam. I can’t wait to make the Worcestershire Sauce and something a bit more exciting by trying Smoked Apple Paste when my apples ripen.
As you read through each recipe you get an idea of how long it is going to take you. Many preserving books don’t mention this and you can be stirring for a long time, wondering what is going on. I cook for fun and it's mostly at night so I do like to know how much sleep I am going to get.
I am really excited to be able to have some fantastic local growers near me. My local strawberry farm is very family friendly so I will be adding strawberry picking for jams and sauces to our weekends for the next few weeks. Summer this year is looking pretty tasty, but there’s also plenty for the cooler months ahead when we have more time for preserving and enjoying being indoors.
Not Just Jam by Matthew Evans is published by Murdoch Books (Sydney, Australia, 2016; hc, 208pp). It is available where all good books are sold, and retails in Australia for RRP A$35.00
Alison Ferry is a librarian who enjoys cooking, gardening and writing children’s stories. She has lived in Hobart for five years and is slowly acclimatising to the cold.
- Huon and Channel (TAS)
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