C and I made this jam for the first time a few weeks ago. We made 5 jars, one of which we sent to Hannah and James over at date dinners as part of our first foodie pen pals parcel, whilst the remaining 4 were instantly snatched up by grateful recipients, including my chief Jam taster Bob (an elderly chap from Oldham) who i’ve posted a few of our homemade jams to with mixed reviews. Bob gave this jam ten out of ten so it’s officially brilliant!
Being as the weather has taken a wintery turn this week I thought it fitting to celebrate here with a winter fruit. Jam making also provides a nice warm indoor activity for cold afternoons, although with a bit of luck there’s only a few more of these left to get through and spring is at last in sight……
We used British Conference pears that were fairly ripe but still had a little crunch to them to add texture to the finished jam. Chocolate pairs beautifully with pear and using a good quality chocolate with a high cocoa solid content is important as it helps to balance the sweetness of the jam with just a little bitterness.
To Make it you will need:
- 5 250ml- 300ml capacity jam jars and lids
- 1.5 kg pears
- the juice of one lemon
- 800g sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 star anise
- a handful of lemon thyme
- 200g 70% chocolate chopped
- a measuring jug
- A large pan to cook it all in-mine is 5 litre capacity
- jam thermometer– a really useful bit of kit for the kitchen, well worth investing in if you don’t have one
- silicone paper circles, cut to the size of the mouth of your jam jars.
Begin by peeling the pears, removing the core and seeds, then dice into small cubes that are around 5mm square. Place the dices fruit into the pan and pour over the lemon juice and a splash of water, this will help the fruit stay crisp and bright whilst it waits to go onto the heat. Once all the pears are diced add the vanilla extract, sugar, star anise and thyme leaves. Transfer the pan to the hob and turn up the heat so the mix comes to the boil.
The jam needs to be heated until it reaches a temperature of 104°C Jam setting point. Helpfully this is marked on the thermometer with a red arrow as ‘Jam’! Though alarmingly the mark on mine is beginning to disappear through much use. The jam will take around 35-40 minutes to reach this temperature but will need stirring regularly and a close eye keeping on the jam thermometer. Whilst the jam is coming up to temperature pre-heat your oven to 200°C
Once the jam has reached temperature take the jam off the heat, stir in the chopped chocolate until all is melted then set aside whilst preparing the jars.
Thoroughly wash the jars and their lids in hot soapy water. Rinse clean and place the jars on a baking tray then transfer the tray into a pre-heated oven for 5-10 minutes.
Scoop off and discard any froth that may have settled on the surface of the jam with a spoon- these are impurities from the sugar and may crystallise as the jam cools down in the jars.
Decant the jam into the measuring jug and pour straight into the prepared jars while they are still hot. Place a silicone paper circle onto the top of the jam to create a seal and then screw the lid tightly onto the jam jar.
Adding the jam to the jar whilst both are still hot creates an airtight vacuum, sealing the jam as it cools preventing any bacterial contamination that could lead to mould. Leave the jam jars to cool completely- We left ours overnight.
I like to wrap my jam jar lids in brown parcel paper tied with butchers twine to give them a professional (ish!) finish.
How are you staying warm this week? Lets hope spring is just around the corner….