I’m not a huge fan of hot fruit so pineapple on pizza is out and apple pie sits in the ‘least eaten’ pile which is why when I went to the local farmers market (lucky me Broadway Market is on my doorstep every saturday) and saw that rhubarb was in season I was a bit like ‘ok, not rhubarb and apple crumble, come on brain, think, make something else, please’… and my brain thought long and hard and all it came up with was compote, what a let down brain, thats what you get for not having a good breakfast on a saturday. On the plus side, I’m running out of my chutney to give to people as home made gifts so this doubles up as a jam for presents, huzzah!
So whats the difference between a jam and a compote? Basically jams have more sugar, they need it to keep them preserved. They’re also cooked longer and set harder where as a compote is more of a fruit stew (a little like baby food) to be added to porridge, a fruit tart, custard or even just on its own with a dollop of cream or spoon of ice cream.
Ingredients For Jam:
- 450g of fresh rhubarb
- 250g Blackberries
- 750g of jam sugar (or normal white caster sugar plus some sheets of pectin*)
- 1 whole vanilla pod
- Juice of 1 lemon
Ingredients for Compote is as above but substitute:
- 750g jam sugar for 200g of soft brown sugar (and leave out the pectin).
- Add the juice of one whole orange instead of a lemon and 1/2 the zest
- Boil for 10 mins and simmer for 10 mins or until the fruit is all soft.
*Pectin is the natural gelatine found in fruit, apples and citrus are hugely high in it but fruits with thinner skins like berries and rhubarb need a little bit of help to set into jam by adding a little extra, don’t stress, pectin is a natural ingredient.
Put the sliced rhubarb, whole or sliced blackberries (depending on how you like your jam, chunky? smooth?) and sugar into a big pot (if you have a jam one that has a lip on it that will help in the jarring process).
Slice the vanilla bean right down the middle and scrape out the gooey seeds with the flat part of your knife putting them along with the pod into the pot.
Leave the heat dow low till all the sugar is dissolved and then fire it up and put in the lemon juice.
Let the jam bubble and boil for about 10 mins then simmer it for about 20 mins (10 and 10 for compote)
To test the jam: Put a blob onto a plate and if it doesnt move too much when tilted the pectin has done its job, give the blob a little push when its cooled on the plate and it should kind of wrinkle on the surface, this means she’s ready for jarring.
You will need to sterilise your jars:
- Put them in a medium oven (about 150 degrees) for 3 mins and make sure the lids are washed and dried properly while you’re waiting.
- Spoon, ladel, pour the hot jam into the jars and screw the lids on. BE CAREFUL- THEY’RE HOT! Dont wait for the jam to cool, it needs to be jarred whilst hot to form a vacuum and suck the lid on properly sealing in the freshness.
The longer you leave your preserves, the better they are, but of course you can eat them right away if you like. Personally I like to make one tiny jar just so I remembered what it tastes like and the rest are for presents.