I made my first jam a few years ago when I got my allotment. It was quite an event with plenty of measuring and timing, pounds and pounds of fruit, a whole stack of sterilised jars and the proper wax circles and cellophane tops. I remember worrying that I didn't have a jam pan or a sugar thermometer. Each batch I made had a different consistency but every jar was delicious. I did get my jam pan, but as I became more experienced, I dropped the accurate measuring and the addition of pectin. I am now at such a relaxed jam making stage, that I just throw in whatever fruit I have that is ready to be picked with some sugar and simmer/ boil it until it looks about right. It is after all, the taste that matters and not the consistency and as there is no WI jam making competition to enter yet, I can simply please myself or let the occasion dictate. The children and I recently picked all the blackcurrants from our young bush, a few raspberries, a handful of strawberries and about 15 sour cherries to make three small jars of fabulous jam for our scones.
There is something rather special about cherries because they are not available all year round, cherry trees will just not be persuaded or coaxed into anything other than seasonal fruit. They really are a summer treat and possibly my favourite fruit. Cherries are such a glorious colour, I cannot look at my cherry tree laden with ripe cherries without smiling. Yesterday Charlie got his first school report and I am a real believer in praising and celebrating hard work at school. A love and a joy for learning combined with a sense of pride are gifts that will guide any child through life. And so as a celebration of Charlie's report, summer and my cherries, we had a barbecue followed by a delightful Eton Mess style pudding dressed in homemade cherry sauce.