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Cookery class; With Phil Lewis, head chef at The Cook School Scotland So here we are - and.

Byline: Phil Lewis

So here we are - and summer has pretty much been and gone in Scotland.

I always insist that as soon as the game season starts on August 12, we are in Autumn. Some people argue with that, and technically we are still summer, but the days are getting shorter and the thermostats at home are getting cranked up. With the turn in season, the produce available to us starts to change. The strawberries and raspberries are starting to lose their Scottish flags on the packets in the supermarkets, but the brambles, plums and damsons just now are fantastic, so we can't complain too much.

Like many others in Scotland at the moment, I'm out picking brambles at every available opportunity. I have the scratches on my arms to prove it!

There is no better way to use up an excess of soft fruit than by making jam, so just now in The Cook School we're making gallons of the stuff.

Pectin is a gelling substance that occurs naturally in many fruits. It is most concentrated in pips, cores and skin. The cell walls of under-ripe fruit contain pectose, an insoluble substance that changes into soluble pectin as the fruit ripens. Slightly under-ripe fruits are best for jellies and jams.

Some fruits are high in pectin, while others have very little. Compensate for those by mixing low and high-pectin fruits, such as blackberry and apple. You can also use jam sugar for low-pectin fruits, but never use it on high-pectin fruits as the jam will set like a brick.

High-pectin fruits

Crab apples, blackcurrants, plums, gooseberries, redcurrants, cooking apples, cranberries, damsons, quince, oranges, lemons.

Fruits with quite high pectin

Raspberries, loganberries, apricots, boysenberries and tayberries.

Low-pectin fruits

Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, rhubarb, elderberries, peaches, sweet cherries, dessert apples, pears, figs and marrow.

Always use a heavy double-based stainless steel or copper pan. With aluminium pans, the fruit acid will react with the pan and create a tinny taste.

If you want to take the guesswork out of making jam, buy a sugar thermometer - when it hits 105C (220F), the jam is set.

A sterilized jar is essential to the success and longevity of jams. Dirty jars will infect the food inside and it will spoil very quickly. Wash all jars in hot, soapy water and rinse in freshly boiled water, then turn upside-down on a clean tea towel. To heat-sterilize your jars, preheat the oven to Gas3/170C. Stand the jars on a baking sheet and heat for 10 minutes. Or put the clean jam jars in a deep pan of boiling water and boil for 10 minutes.

Above, is a simple recipe for raspberry jam, which can be adapted to preserve the taste of any soft fruit all winter long.

Put the berries into a stainless steel saucepan. Mash them a little and cook for 3-4 minutes over a medium heat, then add the sugar and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is fully dissolved.

Increase the heat, bring to the boil and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently (frozen berries will take slightly longer).

Boil to 105C, skim and pour into sterilized jam jars. Cover immediately.

Store the jam in a cool place - but it will be so delicious, it won't last long.

JAM

Makes 3 450g (1lb) pots.

900g (2lb) fresh or frozen berries

900g (2lb) white sugar, (use 110g/4oz less if the fruit is very sweet)
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Article Type:Recipe
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 15, 2012
Words:574
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