With the weather picking up (intermittently), now is a good idea to start making use of the produce starting to appear in our gardens and in the wild, as well as our supermarket shelves. Enjoy home made jams, cakes cool beverages this summer.

Strawberry Jam 

Ingredients

900g (2 lb) fresh strawberries, hulled

800g (1 3/4 lb) caster sugar

4 tablespoons lemon juice

Method

1) In a heavy bottomed saucepan, crush the strawberries with a potato masher.

2) Add sugar and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 105 C.

3) Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving 1cm (1/2 in) headspace and seal. Process any unsealed jars in a water bath. If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don’t bother with processing, and just refrigerate.


Strawberry Jam

Damson Gin

Ingredients

1 lb Damsons

1lb sugar

1 bottle of gin (750ml is you like it syrupy, 1 litre if you like less syrupy- both work ok)

Method

1) Prick damsons, put into a clean sterilised glass container that can be sealed. (Demi Johns are perfect)

2) Add sugar and shake every day until the sugar is very pink.

3) Add gin, shake and store in a dark place. Turn and swill fruit around once a day until sugar has dissolved then leave and shake occasionally.

4) After 3 months, strain and bottle.

5) Damsons usually ready in September which means gin is ready for bottling just before Christmas.


Gin

Apricot Jam

Ingredients

1kg apricots, halved and stoned

juice of 1 small lemon

250ml water

1kg caster sugar

1 knob butter

Method

1) Place the apricot halves, lemon juice and water in a large non-reactive saucepan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the fruit is soft.

2) Remove from heat, add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved completely. Return the pan to the heat, add the butter and stir until melted.

3) Bring the jam to a full boil and boil rapidly for 15 minutes, then test for setting. If setting point has not been reached, boil for 5 minutes more, then test again. Pour into warm sterilised jars and cover immediately.


Apricot Jam

Sloe Gin

Ingredients

450g/1lb Sloes

225g/8oz caster sugar

1 litre/1¾ pint gin

Method

1) Prick the tough skin of the sloes all over with a clean needle and put in a large sterilised jar.

2) Pour in the sugar and the gin, seal tightly and shake well.

3) Store in a cool, dark cupboard and shake every other day for a week. Then shake once a week for at least two months.

4 )Strain the sloe gin through muslin into a sterilised bottle


Sloeberry

Rhubarb Crumble

Ingredients

10 sticks of rhubarb

4 tbsp water

8 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp powdered ginger

110g/4oz butter, softened

110g/4oz demerara sugar

180-200g/6-7oz flour

Method

1) Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

2) Cut the rhubarb into 7½cm/3in long sticks and place on an oven tray, sprinkle with the water and caster sugar and roast in the oven for 10 minutes.

3) Once cooked, remove from the oven, sprinkle over the ginger and mix well.

4) Fill an ovenproof dish about 4cm/1½in deep with the rhubarb.

5) Rub the butter into the flour and sugar to make the crumble topping. Sprinkle over the rhubarb and bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the crumble topping is crisp and golden-brown and the rhubarb filling has softened and is bubbling.

6) Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving with double cream.

Rhubarb crumble