While Mr. Fairweather and his brother were getting ready to take some trees down, Little Paddler and I were combing the ditches along the field for blackberries. The place was teeming with them. I couldn’t believe there were so many this late in to October. The ones along our
lane avenue, had long since been cleaned off. Mr. Fairweather reckoned if we wanted them to grab them now before the trees came down and blocked my access. Good plan. I had jam making on my mind. This time I thought I would make blackberry and apple jam. We had the apples; more than enough. I even had a lovely simple looking recipe. What could go wrong?
I have learned (or at least am learning) that if I say this, it definitely means that something will go wrong. Turns out that I can’t read a recipe and I lobbed all the ingredients in to the pan together when I should have stewed the fruit first before adding the sugar. Mr. Fairweather wandered over that evening as I was in the middle of my
jam making disaster making and had a look. With his expert eye he announced that I would turn the whole thing in to toffee. Don’t be daft, I said. It’ll be fine if I just add a little water, I was sure. He wandered off again.
It looked good. It smelled good. But oh man, was it taking ages to get the liquid to evaporate off. I kept stirring and checking. It wasn’t budging. Slowly it started to reduce. It started to smell amazing. It was looking amazing – if a little runny. Surely it would come good soon, I thought. The smell changed slightly and the colour took on a brownish tinge instead of the deep burgundy it had been. Hold your nerve, I told myself. It was getting late. Mr. Fairweather had gone to bed. The consistency finally looked right. I didn’t have time or energy to test the setting point. I just whacked it in to the jars.
The spoon started to stick to things. The jam, when it dripped on to my hand started to harden up instead of just forming a bit of a skin. This wasn’t good.
I left it and went to bed.
I woke up and opened the smallest jar and stuck a spoon in. It bounced. The whole thing was rock hard. All the jars were. I had made blackberry and apple toffee. hard, glass like toffee. A much sought after skill somewhere I am sure, but not in my kitchen. It is what I refer to as an unmitigated disaster. Ah well. You win some, you lose some…..