Thursday, August 30, 2012

magnolia jam

As you may have picked up from my recent posts, I've become rather enamoured of magnolias lately. I feel like I'm seeing them everywhere at the moment but especially in a few key locations where I often need a beautiful pick me up (on the way to work; on the way to the hospital). I feel like they're such a hopeful flower - blooming as they do at the end of Winter and early Spring on naked branches, gradually making way for green sprouting leaves.

If only I could cook up and bottle magnolias as jam, to savour them on toast in the morning, to literally consume the hopefulness they hold for me. Instead I thought perhaps homemade strawberry jam might be a fair substitute, especially as the strawberries seem to be exploding with brightness and flavour at the moment. There is something about the idea of ingesting bold colours that is appealing to me, something intrinsically nourishing and life affirming. And besides, I've never made strawberry jam before. In fact I never even used to like it. I don't know why, perhaps it was because growing up we were more of an apricot jam household. But the strawberries are demanding my attention at the moment and so to strawberry fields of jam we go.

Sally Wise, as usual, was my go to for this one and she makes it pretty simple and straightforward, which is always a nice way to go.

Strawberry Jam
Adapted from Sally Wise

500g strawberries, hulled
3/4 tsp tartaric acid
1/4 cup of water
500g sugar

Chop the strawberries roughly and place in a medium saucepan with the tartaric acid and water.  Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes.  Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.  Bring the jam to the boil and boil over medium heat for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it though. If you have a raging hot gas burner like I do, you may want to lower down the heat or take it off the stove a bit earlier. My jam ended up quite caramelised, which was good but might not be what you're going for.

Pour into sterilised bottles and seal immediately. Then enjoy on toast or stirred through yogurt or with fresh strawberries, gingerbread biscuits and mascarpone (as we did with my Mum on Tuesday night) or however you like it.

Just before we go, here a few interesting facts about magnolia which I discovered during my travels and which further reinforce my enjoyment of this rather amazing plant:
- Magnolia evolved before bees appeared
- the aromatic bark contains magnolol and honokiol, two polyphenolic compounds that may have demonstrated anti-anxiety properties
- in parts of Japan, the leaves of magnolia obovata are used for wrapping food and as cooking dishes.

So there you go: beautiful, hopeful and useful - qualities I think can safely apply to jam as well.

I wasn't the only one to make jam this month.
To see what all the lovely cooking club members made, do stop by their places below.


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