A gift for winter

In A Jam: Jams, Jellies, Curds and Cordials, by Kirsten Day, published by Bateman Books, $29.99.
In A Jam: Jams, Jellies, Curds and Cordials, by Kirsten Day, published by Bateman Books, $29.99.
As summer's bounty begins to ripen, it is always good to get some new inspiration for ways to turn it into preserves to brighten the duller days of winter.

Kirsten Day's new book, In a Jam, provides recipes not only for jams, but also marmalades, curds, jellies and cordials.

Day also goes through the basics of preserving in quick and easy steps.

And she provides inspiration for what to do with the preserves once you have made them, matching jams and curds with sweet and savoury dishes.

''I like to think of preserves as flavour enhancers, adding them to a dish when needed,'' Kirsten said.

Another bonus with this book is the recipes are all made for small batches of two or four jars, so they are achievable for everyone.

''The more preserving you do, the more confident you become, in turn becoming more daring with creating your own flavours.''


Photos: Todd Eyre
Photos: Todd Eyre
Peach and amaretto shortcake slice

This is a great go-to recipe, and can be made using your favourite jam.

Makes 24 pieces

185g butter, softened
100g sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
250g flour
250g peach and amaretto jam (see below)

Peach and amaretto jam (makes three 250ml jars)
650g peaches
650g sugar
125ml water
30ml amaretto liqueur
juice of 1 lemon

Heat the oven to 180degC (160degC fan-forced). Line a 20 x 30cm slice tin with baking paper and set aside.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy.

Add the flour and mix until just combined, but still crumbly. Put three-quarters of the dough into the prepared slice tin, and press the dough down until flat.

Bake for 10 minutes then remove from the oven. Spread the jam over the hot part-baked base. Crumble the remaining quarter-measure of dough evenly over the top. Place back in the oven for another 10 minutes or until the slice is lightly golden in colour.

Remove from the oven and leave in the tin until completely cool. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container, where they will keep for up to 1 week.

Variation: This slice works well with any jam, so create your own family favourite.

Peach and amaretto jam
Heat the oven to 130degC.

Wash the jars and lids in hot, soapy water and rinse. Place the jars in the oven for at least 10 minutes to warm and sterilise them. Put the lids into a small bowl and pour boiling water over to sterilise.

Place two saucers in the freezer; these are used to test your jam for setting.

Using a soft-fruit peeler, carefully peel the peaches, put the skins in a small saucepan, and barely cover with water. Bring to the boil, and cook until the liquid has reduced to about 30ml. Press the skins and liquid through a sieve and set aside.

Halve the peaches and roughly chop the flesh. Put in a large, heavy-based saucepan with the water and the liquid from the skins. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the fruit is soft.

Add the lemon juice and sugar to the peach mixture and stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to a rolling boil and cook for 10 minutes or until the setting point has been reached. At this stage, skim off any foam.

To test whether the setting point has been reached, remove the saucepan from the heat. Place a teaspoon of the jam on one of the saucers from the freezer. Allow the jam to cool, then push your finger through the jam. It should start to congeal and wrinkle up - if you can push your finger through and it's still runny, you haven't reached the setting point. Alternatively, if you are using an instant-read thermometer, the temperature has reached 104degC.

If it has not set, return the saucepan to the heat, bring the mixture back to a rolling boil and test again in a few minutes using the second saucer.

When ready, remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the jam to cool for 10 minutes.

Gently stir in the amaretto.

Ladle the jam into the hot, sterilised jars to within 0.5cm of the top rim. Screw the lids on tightly, and allow to cool.

Label and date each jar before storing them in a cool, dark place, where they will keep for up to 1 year.

Variation: If you are just after a gorgeous peach jam, leave out the amaretto.


Strawberry and rhubarb curd

This yields a deliciously thick curd, perfect to use in desserts.

Makes two 250ml jars

250g strawberries, hulled and quartered
250g rhubarb, cut into 1cm slices
100g sugar
a pinch of salt
125ml water
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
75g sugar
4 egg yolks
75g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Put the strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, salt and water into a medium-sized, heavy-based saucepan.

Bring to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the fruit has broken down and the mixture is thick.

Transfer to a clean mixing bowl and cool for 20 minutes.

Heat the oven to 130degC.

Wash the jars and lids in hot, soapy water and rinse. Place the jars in the oven to warm and sterilise for at least 10 minutes. Remove and cool. Put the lids in a small bowl and pour boiling water over to sterilise.

Put the lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar and egg yolks in a clean saucepan and whisk to combine.

Place the pan on a low heat and add the strawberry mixture slowly, stirring constantly until all of the mixture has been added.

Cook until the curd is thick, or the temperature reaches 70degC on an instant-read thermometer.

Remove from the heat and add the butter, 1 cube at a time, stirring until melted and well combined.

Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, using a silicone spatula to push the pulp through. Spoon the curd into the cooled, sterilised jars and seal.

Label and date the jars before storing in the fridge, where they will keep for up to 1 month.

Match: This curd goes well with meringues.

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