Monday, 12 November 2012

What We Did at The Weekend - Jam and Engines

James spent most of his weekend doing DIY on other people's boats. Saturday saw him, with John and Mark, *nearly but not quite* get the Irene's engine going. On Sunday, he helped Rob on Friendly Fox put his battery bank back together. 

My weekend, however, was spent mostly foraging and jam making (gender stereotypes? What gender stereotypes?). Whilst out rowing on Saturday morning I'd spotted a few late blackberries and set out to gather some when I got back from doing the laundry. I cycled out along the towpath and along with the blackberries, found an unexpected row of redcurrant bushes. I finished in Cow Hollow Wood, where I gathered a bag of sloes as well. Dusk was falling so I took the train back into town (conveniently I arrived at Waterbeach station 5 minutes before it set off)

It wasn't until Sunday that I had a chance to make the jam. I called it Towpath Jam (although I had been given the apples by a work colleague so it wasn't quite accurate)

The recipe is simple, just gather whatever you can find on the towpath (or hedgerow). The only thing you really have to have (unless you're adding pectin from a bottle) is apples (cores and all):

Towpath Jam

Towpath berries (whatever is in season: blackberries, elderberries, redcurrants, rosehips, haws, sloes)
Apples of some sort (crabapples, bramleys)

Destalk the fruit and chop the apples, but put the cores in as well - they have lots of pectin. Heat the fruit in a large pan until it is soft. Press through a sieve into a bowl, throw out the skins and stalks, and return pulp to the cleaned pan using a measuring jug. For every 600ml of pulp, add 500g sugar. Bring to a rolling boil until the setting point is reached. I use the traditional cold saucer method for this - a drop of jam on a cold saucer will wrinkle when pressed with your finger, once it has reached setting point. Seal in sterilised jars.

In the late afternoon, we went for a little cruise because it was such glorious weather. We picked up our friend Chris on the way (he'd just finished coaching a boat, so when we spotted him we swung past the boathouse and he jumped on!) We stopped at the Plough for a drink, then headed back as the dusk was falling to go to the water point. There we met Kirsty, who is about to buy a boat, and she had a go steering the Duck back to our mooring (this reminded me of when (big) James and Emma used to let us have a go at steering when they went to the waterpoint when we were wannabe narrowboaters, many years ago). Then, we all four went to the Fort St George for mulled wine. It was a lovely evening.

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