Midway through a 4 hour walk last week in the hills of Arico here in Tenerife, in 36c heat (that’s about 95 degrees fahrenheit in old money) which left me gagging for water, more water…and a little cheeky glass of wine to aid recovery ( #unashamedlush) I came across a lonely little juniper bush on a ridge overlooking the Tamadaya Barranco and immediately thought of Gin (#unashamedlushtwice) I picked a few berries and decided to use them in my next post and yes, its random, but later that week I also ran out of jam. I hated every spoonful of that jam …cheap, mushy, runny jam…so I´m killing 2 birds with 1 handful of Juniper berries, or is it a gin in the hand is better than 2 in the Juniper bush?…ooh hold on, 2 gins in the Juniper bush?…sounds much better to me.
I’ve never made jam before, so I’ve spent most of the week reading about jam making and the best ways to use Juniper in jams and sauces…so I hope you like this recipe. It’s dead easy, it makes everywhere smell of gorgeous sweet lemons and it really tastes like Gin.
This should make you 5 jars of jam.
YOU WILL NEED…
- 6 lemons – unwaxed – if you can’t get unwaxed, wash lemons in hot water and use a veg brush to get off wax.
- 3 tablespoons – Juniper berries
- 320 ml water
- 80 ml gin (and an extra slug for luck!)
- 1 kg caster sugar
- a small piece of muslin and string
- …to put a saucer in the fridge
- 5 sterilised medium sized jars
- large wide bottomed big saucepan with a lid
1. TO PREPARE.
Slice the lemons length ways in half, then take that half and cut into shreds, thin slices about 2-3 mm wide. Repeat until all lemons are sliced. Remove as many pips as you can.
Cover the lemons with the water and the gin. (don´t make a gin and tonic at this critical point and yes, I know you’ve sliced all those lemons and it would be rude not too!)
Grind a tablespoon of Juniper berries into a fine powder (I used a coffee grinder to do this) put this powder to one side, you´ll use it later
Loosely grind in a pestle and mortar the rest of the berries until they are broken up then put these into a piece of muslin tied at the top, like a teabag. Then put the ‘teabag’ into the saucepan.
2. TO COOK.
Bring the lemons, water, gin and teabag of berries (not the powder) to the boil on a high heat, then simmer for 40 minutes on a medium- low heat with the lid on. Every now and then (I did it every 10 mins), squeeze the teabag of berries to release the flavour and oils.
After 40 mins the lemons should be soft, so remove the teabag, add all of the sugar and the powdered junipers you prepared earlier and cook for a further 20 minutes.The jam should be thickening.
I didn’t need to do the jam set test, but if you are unsure…take a cold saucer and put a teaspoon of the mixture onto it and leave for a minute…then push your finger through the mixture, if it starts to wrinkle as you do this, it’s set!
Leave the mixture to cool for a few minutes then put into your sterilised jars, be careful as you do this. (If you have a metal funnel it’s easier to fill the jars up) Put wax paper discs onto the top of the jam, close the lid and leave to cool.
I made my Gin Jam on a Friday night and was eating it on toast with butter on Saturday morning, followed by a Gin Jam sarnie at midday and then several Gins after ´Gin o clock´ (which was about ten past twelve….whoops!)