Jam that is made in the microwave… Who knew?
Earlier this year my sisters and I visited my mom and dad for their big anniversary / birthday bash.
Now let me tell you how things go in the Smith house: EVERYTHING revolves around food. From who will be joining for lunch or dinner, what ingredients there is in either one of their 2 fridges or 3 freezers of what to get from the supermarket, menu planning, who is responsible for making which dishes, will there be enough drinks, etc. It is a process!
More about this anniversary / birthday bash that they held at their home…
They live in quite a small town called Empangeni, in KwaZulu-Natal, and in my opinion invited half of the town! They invited over 90 guests and in total about 70 showed up. My parents love to entertain other people, thus it being their 5th anniversary and my mom’s birthday anything less than going all out would simply not suffice. Not only was all the food supplied, a red Bedouin tent hired, but this party needed some entertainment as well. They hired an Afrikaans singer, Valiant Swart, to be the entertainment of the evening. The guests only had to bring their own drinks, glassware, chairs and a donation that was given to a charity.
My dad didn’t know what to get my mom for her birthday, so I suggested that he buys her flowers and he came home with the whole florist’s supply. Grandmother was in charge of arranging all the flowers and decorating the house and grandfather was playing piano and singing to keep us positive while we prepped. Nelly, the lady who runs my mom’s house with an iron fist, was a star – we could not have done it without her! 😉
Okay, about the food…
Starters / snacks:
Mini cheese muffins with melted asparagus topping,
Blue devilled eggs,
Popcorn served in little popcorn boxes,
A Selection of cheese & biscuits served with trout terrine and sliced meats,
Fresh crudites, roasted nuts, olives and caramalised onions
Fruity chicken bake,
Bushpig and pear stew,
Bacon samp bake,
Vegetarian butternut & spinach lasagne,
Chickpea and avocado quinoa salad,
Sweet beetroot dressed slaw
Individual Malva Pudding
Individual Apple Crumble with vanilla custard
My mom is a tremendous cook and is very creative. She loves arts and crafts and DIY. She always tries to teach us new things when we go visit her and I love her for that. Unfortunately, we don’t visit too often as she lives about 650km away. But when we do there is never a dull moment! So much to learn and so little time!
My mom & I went to do the groceries for the party and found some pretty apricots on special and naturally, we had to take them home with us. Since part of my job was making the cheese muffins, my mom thought it best for me to make jam with the beautiful apricots we bought. It goes perfectly well together! The first jam I ever made was pineapple jam and it was seriously delicious. Now, I haven’t made jam since then (Home Economics class in grade 10), but my mom showed me a seriously easy way & now I want to share it with all of you. Make it for your granny as a Christmas present. She will be so impressed!
What you need to know about making apricot jam:
• What makes jam set?
Pectin. Pectin is a naturally occurring gelatine-like carbohydrate in fruits. Some fruits, like strawberries and grapes, have less pectin than others and when making jam with those fruit it is recommended that additional pectin is added. Fruits that contain large amounts of pectin include apples, oranges, apples, peaches and quince.
Together with an acid (like lemon juice) and sugar, pectin is extracted from the fruit and aids in gelling your jam.
• Be sure to sterilise your jar(s) before transferring the jam into them else your jam will go moldy and spoil. For proper sterilisation techniques, refer to this website.
• There are a lot of other factors to take into consideration when cooking jam on the stove, but this recipe is done in the microwave, so only some things need to be remembered.
• There are two more common tests to make sure the jam has cooked sufficiently and is done. The first is to see how the jam falls off a wooden spoon. With a clean spoon you remove some jam from the bowl, let it cool slightly and gently turn the spoon so the jam falls off. It should fall off in bits and not in one stream. If the latter occurs you should cook it some more. Another method is to take a small plate that has been in the fridge for some time and place some jam on the plate. Once it has cooled a little, you can use your finger or a teaspoon to push the jam to one side of the plate. The jam is done when the surface crease as you push it to one side.
Tips from my mom:
• Use perfectly ripe fruit. These fruits have the highest pectin levels. Under-ripe fruit doesn’t taste as good and overripe fruit has less pectin and using these fruits might cause the jam to not set properly (pectin has been turned into pectic acid)
• If you want to make jam from fruit with less pectin without adding additional pectin, it is a good idea to combine the fruit with either apples or oranges.
• The easiest way to remember the formula for a jam is the same amount of fruit and sugar, measured in grams. And then some lemon juice and a touch of butter.
This post is very insightful if you would like to know more about jam and jelly making.
This recipe is very adaptable, but these are the amounts we used.
As I have mentioned, this jam perfectly complements cheese muffins or freshly baked ‘ouma’ bread with a thick layer of butter. 🙂