Making jams using different kinds of aromatics. Done right it's brilliant. But there's a few things you should know before you start. Here are my best tips for adding aromatics to jam.
Before you start to experiment with different aromatics, it is always worth perfecting a simple fruit jam first. Work with it. Experiment with sugar levels. Test different varietals. Make it yours and feel fully confident with your base jam before you start introducing new flavours and textures. If you’d like some guidance for making perfect homemade jam, refer to Sky’s foolproof recipe by clicking here.
If you want to make your life even easier, Sky’s Magic Jam Maker will allow you get a perfect set every time, as it features our sophisticated pectin formula that we’ve developed over the past 20 years. It’s a great first step towards perfect jam.
Adding aromatics to jam is a wonderful idea. While it’s never a good to detract from ‘the perfect ingredient’ (that being the fruit itself), certain combinations complement each other so delightfully you’ll be amazed at what you’re eating.
Many of you may be thinking of cutting out the end of your fresh garden herbs. Whether they’re in your greenhouse, on your windowsill or in your garden, now is a good time to think about adding them to jam. After all, we’re entering harvest season – make use of our delicious summer and autumn fruits now and you’ll have a vibrant taste of sunnier times preserved in jars when the weather gets all wet and cold. You’ll thank yourself later.
Of course, it’s fine to buy fresh fruit and fresh herbs if you are unable to forage or grow. We’ve found that Turkish grocers offer the best bunches of herbs – in London, anyway.
The exciting part about using aromatics is that, once you start experimenting, you’ll discover countless possibilities and combinations.
To get you started, here are a few examples:
Fresh or dried herbs and teas.
When using leafy vegetation, fresh or dried, it is always nicer to remove them once you have the level of flavour desired. If you leave them in the fruit, over time they will blacken and start to impart an off flavour.
The way most people begin is to immerse the herbs in the fruit as they cook, before adding sugar. While this may achieve some very nice results, it can be harder to control the intensity of the flavour. I would suggest a few sprigs of fresh herbs with a kilo of fruit or your chosen tea in an infusing ball, removing before you go on to add the sugar.
Here are some suggestions:
- Apricot and tarragon
- Raspberry and lemon balm
- Strawberry and mint
Another method is adding an infusion to your jam either as the fruit is cooking or towards the end. Obviously, this will affect your set so you must work out how much to use and at which point you add it.
I would recommend using hot water to infuse fresh herbs but would also recommend trying a cold infusion for dried herbs and tea. You can achieve some great, intense, and pronounced flavours. If you are using a black tea, such as earl grey, you won’t collect any of the tannin flavours that can be hard to combine in sweet, aromatic fruits.
Here are some suggestions:
- Strawberry and chamomile
- Raspberry and Jasmine
- Earl Grey and Victoria plum
Other ways to use aromatics are to use essential oils / extracts or hard spices.
Oils and extracts give bright, clear flavours and are very controllable. However, they can be an expensive investment if you aren’t going to be using them regularly. For this method, it is best to count drops onto a spoon and add them at the end of cooking.
Always use fresh hard spices and invest in a small gage weighing scale. You can buy them cheaply at a lot of coffee shops now. This allows you to measure the spice accurately if you want to replicate your recipe.
The best part about adding aromatics to jam-making is the excitement of unlocking new flavours and creating preserves that will complement certain times of the year.
A hugely popular jam we made last year was our Spiced Apple Butter. We made a simple apple preserve (called ‘butter’ because of its unique texture) and added ginger, cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg, and vanilla. It was Christmas in a jar.
It’s a brilliant preserve to make in October, as you use up the wonderful varieties of British apples while applying flavour combinations that complement the winter festivities so perfectly.
Anyway, enough chit-chat. Start experimenting with different combinations. We’re here to help you every step of the way.
And remember, Sky’s Magic Jam Maker is a cheat code for perfect homemade jam every time.
Thanks for reading, folks.
Have fun with your jam-making. Let us know how you get on. Come to us pleading for help if it goes wrong. Come to us with beaming with excitement if it goes right. We're here for you!
Best wishes, Sky, Kai & the England Preserves team