Picture this: it’s the day after a big party – perhaps it was Christmas or a New Year’s Eve bash – and amongst the empty glasses & used plates, slightly soggy crackers and decidedly secondhand-looking wodges of cheese, there’s an assortment of leftover fruit. Maybe it’s berries or passionfruit that wasn’t used on the pavlova, or excess flesh not used in the mango float. More than likely, there’s some sliced lemon that never realised its dream of becoming a garnish. Whatever it is, there’s not really enough of any one thing to do much with, so chances are these odds and sods will either sit on the bench or in containers in the fridge until they’re definitely no good to anyone, and they’ll end up in the compost – or worse – in landfill.
Enter: Use It Up Jam! This recipe – part of our Use It Up waste-hack series – allows you to turn bits and bobs of fruit into a delicious preserved jam that has the potential to last for years in the pantry. It works best with soft summer fruits like cherry, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, mango, passionfruit, peach, apricot, nectarine and plum. If you have firmer fruits like apples or pears, you might like to check out our Summer Jam recipe, which talks about how to handle those elements.
If you’ve never jammed soft fruit before, don’t stress – it’s really not difficult (and if you want more info to boost your confidence, this article has you covered). Boiled down (hurhurhurhur), it basically amounts to:
Mix fruit with ¾ it’s weight in sugar.
Leave til its goes runny.
Heat til it goes jelly-like.
Seal it in a clean jar.
Seriously easy!! Like so many things in life, humans have overcomplicated things over time, so that most people feel unable to connect to really basic skills and crafts like growing and preserving food. Of course it’s important to make sure you do stuff safely – like sterilising jars – but if you’re ever feeling overwhelmed about trying a traditional-type skill for the first time, just remember that once upon a time, people used to learn said skill with no fancy cookbooks, no TV shows, and definitely no internet. You’ll be alright – just break it down into basic steps, and try to think about why those steps were done in the past. That should help make sense of it and give you some confidence. 🙂
So! Enough waffling (although – side note – this jam is a spectacular accompaniment to waffles…), an on with the recipe. We’ve given an example of weights, but you can absolutely tailor this recipe to whatever you have. Just be sure to add ¾ (75%) as much sugar as you have fruit, and you’ll be fine (from a food-preservation point of view).
350g mixed raspberries, blueberries & mango
262g sugar to suit our fruit weight (350g x 75% = 262g)
Lemon – we used about ½ a lemon’s worth of slices. 1-2 lemons is good for most quantities
- Wash fruit in warm water. Trim off any manky bits.
- Chop larger fruit into similar sized chunks & remove any pips from stone fruit. Lightly smoosh blueberries if using. Combine with sugar in large pot.
- Wash lemon, slice in half, squeeze juice into pot and then add the leftover skin & pulp.
- Stir until well combined, cover and leave to macerate* for a few hours.
- Bring to a rolling boil and keep there until it reaches a ‘set’.
- Remove lemon.
- Pour into hot sterilised jars and seal while hot.
*Macerating is when the juices of fruit is drawn out by the sugar, turning the sugar into liquid. This allows you to quickly boil jam to a ‘set’, meaning the fruit is more likely to stay in pieces rather than turn to mush.
Store in a cool dark cupboard for potentially years before opening, then in the fridge once you’ve cracked the jar.
* Most berries and soft fruits can be frozen, so if only have a tiny bit of fruit on hand, just add them to a container in the freezer until you have enough to make a batch of jam. No need to thaw the fruit before macerating.
* Due to the low pectin levels in ripe strawberries and blueberries, this recipe might make a slightly runnier jam than our other recipes. Be sure to add any white bits of strawberry, as these have more pectin in them and can help reach a set.
* If your jam just doesn’t want to set, rather than continuing to boil it until it becomes toffee, just jar it up runny and call it syrup! Excellent on ice-cream or yoghurt as a dessert…
* Hang on to the bits of lemon you pull out of the jam before jarring up – either dehydrate them to enjoy as sticky, gooey candied treats, or pop into a glass with G&T or bubbles. Deliciously frugal!
Permaculture Principle 2: Catch & store energy; 3: Obtain a yield; 6: Produce no waste
For more waste-hack recipes, check these out: