Destinations Magazine

Jam Tomorrow (Well, This Saturday Actually)

By Lwblog @londonwalks
Jam Tomorrow (Well, This Saturday Actually)For Ann’s recipe this week you will need a hammer and some cyanide. Huh?

“The scent of simmering fruit, the satisfaction of rows of jars glowing with jam, the time it takes to clear up that sticky stuff that has got everywhere in the kitchen...I’m new to jam making, having resisted all that fiddling around with sterilising the jars and putting little covers on them. But there is one jam I have loved over the years – apricot, made by a French friend with a recipe from the 19th Century. What makes it special is the addition of the apricot kernels, which give a faint almond flavor. I suspect you don’t find these in commercial jams as they contain prussic acid, or cyanide – the weapon of choice in many Victorian murder mysteries.

So this year, under instruction, I made apricot jam – with kernels. Take the stones out of the fruit, then leave it in a bowl overnight with the sugar (about ¾ of a kilo of sugar to a kilo of fruit). I was so new to jam making that I didn’t know you can buy jam sugar, with the pectin already in it. (Another reason for not making jam was those frequent moans from cooks that their jam won’t set.)

Next day, smash the kernels with a hammer. Do not do this in the kitchen, and try to hit fairly gently. Your technique will improve as you go. Blanch the kernels in boiling water, then slip off the skins. Boil your fruit and sugar, and add the kernels when it is thickening and syrupy. Pour into jars heated and sterilised in the oven.

There are warnings on the internet about the cyanide in apricot and plum kernels, but no one seems prepared to tell you how many you have to eat before you collapse with terminal stomach pains. As the friend who provided the recipe has been eating it without ill effect for 75 years, I’m not too worried. In fact, I am about to get the hammer out and tackle a few pounds of plums…”

Ann’s next Foodie Walk is on Saturday, August 27th it's Foodies' London – the West End. It goes at 10.45 am from Green ParkTube, the Green Park exit (meet in the park)

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