The Perfect Picnic : Berries, Lavender & Pimms Jam

I’ve been away for a while, sorry!  I started this blog a year ago, and very soon after posting a few recipes, got the news that we were moving from Edinburgh to London. So all too soon I had to pack my kitchen, put it in storage and embark on the next adventure. I’m pleased to report, that after 8 months of flat-searching, I now have a kitchen again! So, it seemed only appropriate to get back to the blog.

This time though, I’ve teamed up with my lovely sister, Suba. She has just moved to Venice (how could we not take advantage of that!) and loves making delicious wholesome food. We’ve also changed the blog name, so that along with the recipes we come up with, we can share great table-setting ideas, snippets from our wanderings either around markets or around the globe and some of our attempts at crafting .Anyway, welcome, or welcome back! Hope you’ll stay!

x Anu

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It’s Summer. Okay, so it’s not quite feeling like it just yet in London and Venice but we’re a pair of optimists so we’re getting a head start! Summer immediately conjures up images of plentiful wicker baskets, overflowing with strawberries, sandwiches and scones, set on plaid picnic blankets over sun-drenched green grass. In the spirit of Summer food fantasies, our first theme is picnics. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll share recipes and ideas for how to have a gorgeous picnic – lovely picnic settings, and of course, a few recipes for lovely, luscious things you can pack up in your picnic baskets (think homemade berry, lavender and Pimms Jam to glam up store-bought crumpets or scones, fig, lemon and ricotta Foccacia, amaretti and tahini Cookies, Indian-inspired potato salad , chocolate ganache Cupcakes and lest we forget your furry friends, peanut butter and oat Dog Biscuits).

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Ingredients

500g mixed berries (I used good quality frozen strawberries, blueberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants)

500g of granulated sugar

2 tbsps of dried lavender

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp of Pimms (or  liqueur or brandy if you prefer)

You’ll also need somewhere to store your jam. As this is not a huge quantity, and if you intend to serve it all up in one go for a picnic party then  you could just store it in a clean bowl and wrap it well with cling film. If not, a jam jar, sterilised and covered with wax paper before twisting the cap on will be great.

Method

Start by sterilising the jam jar. Wash it in hot soapy water, wipe it and pop in in a cool oven (about 120 C) for about 20 minutes.

Pour the sugar into the blender and add the lavender. It must be granulated sugar or it will turn to sugar dust in the blender.

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Pour the berries into a heavy saucepan, add half the lemon juice, the Pimms and the sugar. You can add the Pimms after everything has started to thicken but our picnics inevitably feature kids so we want the alcohol properly cooked and burned off. Cook this over medium heat and stir regularly.

If you have a sugar thermometer, you want the jam to be at 104 c and then you know it’s ready. If you don’t you’ll want to firstly watch for the concoction thickening.I turn up the heat after about 20 minutes of simmering and just keep stirring till the jam thickens. When it starts looking more like jam, you want to put a gob of it on a very cold plate. After a few seconds, push the gob with your finger, if it creases, it’s at setting point. If not, continue boiling and test again.

Once the creasing happens, you can now add the other half of the lemon juice. We add it because strawberries are low pectin fruits, meaning they sometimes don’t set as well as fruits like redcurrants or damson. The lemon juice helps the jam set better. Plus we also like it not too sweet! If you’ve used predominantly redcurrants or damson, you may find you don’t need, or want it.

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Now you just need to let your berry, lavender and Pimms jam cool and then transfer it into your jar – done!

x Anu & Suba

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