Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Avoid a Bonfire Night Michael Buerk 999 special with this spiced plum jam recipe

Did you know? The most dangerous place to be on Bonfire Night is your own back garden. I think making a pot of potentially scalding jam in the kitchen on Bonfire Night could come a close second, but I know where i'd rather be.

Personally, I don't have a problem with Guy Fawkes, so whilst others will this evening take on a Michael Buerk 999 reconstruction scenario, I've opted to set aside the sparklers and rockets for a pan of jam.

If you do have 31 minutes and 28 seconds spare, it's worth watching this Bonfire Night Special of 999 from 1995, still as relevant then as it is now. Highlights include the safety advice, and the orchestral theme tune. Poor Uncle Terry!

  • Never use petrol on a bonfire
  • Check for animals before lighting

Here is a recipe for spiced plum jam


8 large plums (I used mixed varieties)
2 cups sugar
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
2-3 teaspoons mixed spice
1 cinnamon stick

Cut the plums into quarters, removing the stone
Put in pan
Add sugar and lemon
Add cinnamon stick and spices
Dissolve under a medium heat
Boil on a high heat for 20 mins
Leave to cool slightly and put in steralised jars
Place lid on and tighten when cool


Add a red onions, red wine vinegar, cumin and mustard seeds to make spiced plum chutney, to go with cold meats.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

English Jam in very real Halloween nightmare

Slow Jammin' responds to new Government regulation that will affect sugar levels in jam

We've all seen the headlines this morning. Whilst spreading jam of a much loved and historic jelly-like consistency onto my bagel, I was shocked to hear that the Government has left jam lovers in a sticky situation. Not content with Halloween being scary enough, the Government has dragged jam makers into a very real nightmare.

Jam to lose its firm wobble

First it was the relentless documentation of Kate Middy's post-baby wobble-free volley-ball belly. Now jam too is having its wobble called into question.

When will society stop judging things by their looks?

Lib Dem MP Tessa Munt expressed this will change the face of British breakfasts, and I must say, she has a point. There are other ways, of course, that you can get a firm wobble:

  • Pectin
  • High fructose corn syrup
But as a novice jam-maker, these don't sound very appetising to me.

Take the edge off the news and make some crafty Halloween jam jars.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

The Only Way is Jammatology

The Only Way is Jammatology (or 'T.O.W.I.J')

I first got to know of Chris Sav (or @disappointman for the inter-webbers) from Jammatology duo after watching a performance from London-based theatre company Love Bites Plays. His 'Ode to a teabag' script had been selected to be part of the show and  was the first play i'd seen which successfully conveyed love and loss between a human and transient, inanimate object. Not personally familiar with the ways of a tea-bag, by the end of the performance I was reaching for the PG tips. With perhaps the blind-sighted enthusiasm of most novices, I went in hard, made myself a cup of builders tea and put up some shelving i'd been meaning to do for a while.

The impetus his play provided isn't far removed from the insight and illustrative wonderment gained from Jammatology; that is, his Jam-making movement. They even have their own Jampedia. Click here for my favourite entry. 

"Jammatology is the life support machine for the confused decaying limb of relativity, fastened awkwardly to the body of truth in a permanent death-grip of mutual dependency."

I was absolutely amazed when Chris tweeted the following video creation, 'Making Jam on a Friday Night'. The timing was uncanny, as I had just ventured into the unknown, set up this blog and created my first post, a recipe for 'Fig and Rosemary jam'. After the initial elation of putting thoughts from my head into a blog I could actually work out how to operate, I was a little concerned I would not be able to find others who would view or engage with the blog, relying on visits from my own technical devices to up the viewing statistics.

"Making Jam on a Friday Night" by Chris Sav www.banalmuffins.wordpress.com

I too, had been making jam on a Friday night, in a pocket of north-west England. Inspired that somebody else had been too, I opted to send Chris a  link to my blog for interest and was delighted when he offered to send me some jam to try.

Fast forward a week or so, and as if by magic, the Royal Mail managed to deliver the goods to my office. They were also in one piece. Wrapped in brown paper, the two flavours contained in the box were Peach and Elderflower and A Date with Earl Grey. I'm sure you have at times questioned what it would be like to go on A Date with Earl Grey and I can confidently tell you, he's getting a second date. Great style and all round pizzazz, he told a good story. Apparently he used to be a Georgian PM and was given a case of tea by a Chinese Mandarin. The Peach and Elderflower jam was of similar good company. It brings clarity to the mind, and for someone who is at times very indecisive, I was transformed into a shrewd thinker, much like Lord Grantham making decisions about his estate.

Boss Man

Here are some thoughts from colleagues in the office when the jars arrived:

"Let me put this on instagram"

"They are lovely, can I keep them?" [Me>] "No."

"I want to order some jam as a gift and also a print as I know someone who looks like the illustration of Earl Grey".

When I got in, my first thought was to bake some scones - some may argue that this is too obvious, but I wanted to give the jams a level playing field. Holding onto tradition as I ventured into exploring these delicious new flavours allowed me to stay grounded and fully appreciate what was in store. 

After a quick google, I found this Mary Berry recipe on the telegraph website, and left the house to go to the corner shop as we didn't have any flour, caster sugar or butter in. We had large eggs, milk and surprisingly, baking powder, in. What I didn't have however, was a rolling pin so used a mug then switched to a glass. I also didn't have a scone cutter so used a glass which felt very industrious.

Anyone who can wear a floral bomber jacket so well that it is still in my mind over a year later must know how to make a decent scone or two.

What a jacket!

Is it just me?

After some baking, I made the scones, and they were very excited.


"Pick me, pick me!" They were thinking.

Chris then expressed via instagram that the preserves were nervous. #nervouspreserves

Each one comes with a Banalogram, a little dollop of pseudo-wisdom to start the day with.

After sharing the jam with friends and colleagues, I felt we all gained something. Jammatology repositions jam and gives it a humble dignity. We are not preached at, but instead given the space to think creatively about how jam fits into our lives. The range of flavours available can match our moods and give us that extra boost when we need a jar of jam to give us a new trail of thought outside of the usual realms. By providing this, Jammatology ensure that jam finds a place in our homes and doesn't get pushed to the back of the fridge and only taken out when you're making a Victoria Sponge or have run out of butter and the corner shop is shut.

In fact, it takes centre stage. I have made sure these little pots of delight are very much at the forefront of both the fridge and ways of thinking.

For more information about getting hold of some of this jam or the iconic prints, visit http://jammatology.wordpress.com/ or www.twitter.com/jammatology

Friday, 27 September 2013

Slow Jammin' #001 - Rosemary and Fig Jam

Rosemary and Fig Jam

The idea came to me after a friend bought some fig jam as a gift from France. Figs are great because they cross the boundary between sweet and savoury. From the traditional tea time treat (and almost as controversial as Marmite) - The Fig Roll, to my grandmother's fig and parma ham salad; or, as recently discovered, fig jam with cheese and biscuits.

With fresh rosemary growing in the front garden, I wanted to create something which could celebrate the fig as a sweet accompaniment to savoury, giving a nod to memories if holidays spent in Greece, with figs and honey.

Ingredients (makes one jar)

8 ripe figs
1 cup of golden granulated sugar
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
4cm spring of rosemary (not the twiggy bits), finely chopped
1 tablespoon of honey

1. Stir all the ingredients over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved.

2. Boil over a high heat until the jam reaches setting point (this may take 30 mins).

Note - to test the setting point, drop a bit of jam onto a cold plate and it should set.

3. Let the jam cool for a bit before pouring into a sterilised jar.

4. Cover with lid whilst still hot.

5. Store in a cool, dry place.

Post jam analysis

This jam worked very well. It would be ideal with roast lamb, perhaps creating a glaze. It also tasted good with crumbly Lancashire cheese and crusty bread. Got me thinking - fig jam would be a perfect Christmas gift or stocking filler.

Have you tried making fig jam? Did you rate it?