Make your own: Jam and chutney

Aah, jam and chutney-making: one of those things that seems like an insanely complicated dark art until you actually try it, and realise it’s pretty much as easy as boiling an egg. I took a relaxed Saturday introductory class at the Make Lounge and emerged with fears debunked and four cute jars of tasty preserves to take home.

making jam & chutney

You don’t even need any special kit like sugar thermometers or fancy funnels: just a large heavy-based pan and some sterilised jars. Ingredients-wise nearly any fruit will do, along with sugar for gelling and vinegar for preserving, in the case of chutney. The tutor Chloe explained to us that high-pectin fruits can take normal sugar whereas lower-pectin fruits like strawberries need a little help with special jam sugar. During the afternoon-long class we made 4 recipes; two sweet jams and two savoury chutneys – the basic process is pretty much the same.

making jam & chutney
making jam & chutneymaking jam & chutney

The process itself basically involves lots of chopping (a team of about ten of us took the best part of half an hour chopping 4kg of red onions!) then a lot of stirring and waiting for the jammy magic to happen. Luckily this involves bread, cheese and cider when done Make Lounge style.

making jam & chutney
making jam & chutney

While they bubbled away we got crafty decorating the jars with ribbon, fabric and sticky-backed plastic.

making jam & chutney
making jam & chutney

I think the idea with these sweetly-dressed-up jars was to give them as Christmas gifts, but I didn’t waste much time digging in and having a try. Purely in the interests of quality control, you understand…

making jam & chutney
making jam & chutney

The caramelised onion chutney is my favourite, and it felt well-deserved after chopping all those onions! I used up most of the jar making this near-instant dinner: just add the jam to shortcrust or puff pastry and top with feta or goat’s cheese for speedy caramelised onion tarts.

making jam & chutney

And I’m not usually a fruity jam kind of person because I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but this homemade blackberry and apple tastes truly sharp and bursting with berry fruit flavours, unlike any bought jam I’ve ever tried. I bet it’d be amazing in a sweet pastry tart.

making jam & chutney

We also made plum, orange and cinnamon jam and a sweet chilli chutney which I’m yet to sample. I’m really excited to have a go myself now and make some to give as Christmas presents.

There’s new dates for the Make Lounge workshop coming up soon, so keep an eye on the site for details.