I approach many festive events or celebrations with the type of organisation and efficiency that you would expect from the leader of an army. Christmas is by far the biggest festive event that I participate in every year, requiring honed skills of preparation and organisation. I don’t like feeling stressed or frazzled….no I take that back. I like feeling only mildly stressed and frazzled. Just frazzled enough to know I am alive and achieving things, but not so much that I am crying over a bowl of cookie dough.
The only way to strike this stress balance is to plan ahead. As previous posts have suggested, I like to plan and write lists and plan just a little bit more. This is why I am thinking of Christmas presents in October and I aim for having all Christmas shopping completed before November is even completed. Now for over organised freaks like me, one of the things we fear most is being caught short. Caught short of food. Caught short of presents. Worst of all caught short of booze. So on top of stocking up on wine and bubbly for the month preceding Christmas, I also start putting little stocking fillers aside, just in case. Food is a nice non gendered gift, that still requires effort and love to create. This year on top of my usual Christmas biscuits, I also decided to make some Jam to give away.
I have never made jam before and was very excited to find I could make it quite easily, so don’t be afraid. I am not a great lover of strawberry jam as a rule. I find it can be overly sweet, but the pear, although not obvious, cuts through the sweetness. I do plan on adding more vanilla to my next batch, as I felt one pod was not sufficient. There are no setting agents added to this jam. But I did add lemon peel to provide extra pectin and set, as I like a firmer set jam.
Strawberry, Pear and Vanilla jam
Makes 2-3 small jars
Adapted from a recipe by Dan Lepard on BBC online (Original Recipe)
- 2 large hard pears
- 500 gms of strawberries, hulled. I cut the larger strawberries in half
- 400 gms caster sugar
- Juice of a small lemon.
- ½ lemon rind grated
- 1 vanilla pod
1. Grate the pears, minus the core and pips into 500 ml of water in a saucepan.
2. Cook for 15-20 mins over high, until water almost evaporated and pear is tender
3. Add strawberries and boil until liquid has evaporated. Then add the sugar and lemon. Continue to boil the jam until reduced and sticky.
4. Stir frequently to ensure that it does not stick to the bottom.
5. When the jam is the consistency you would like turn the heat off
6. Stir in the vanilla seeds only.
7. Pour into warm sterilized jars, put the lid on, tip upside down to create a vacuum.
8. Once opened place in the fridge