Monday, 10 June 2013

Making just a small amount of Rosella Jam!

I managed to grow a couple of scrawny rosella bushes in the backyard this year! Not only did they no actually die in either the scorching heat or the flood waters that regularly visited my back yard in recent times but they also survived the chickens, a bunch of weird looking  caterpillars and a rather large grasshopper!

So Im pleased!

I managed to harvest a bucketful - ok it was a very small bucket - ok it was a very, very small bucket but I was determined to get some sort of food from my garden to my table so I decided to make a batch of jam... that might extend all the way to two jars!

Here's what I did...

First gather your harvest!

Photograph it from many angles to get the best shot of your harvest - you simply cant make good jam if you miss the step!

Hmmm - not much light in my kitchen....

Give 'em a bit of a rinse in the sink and then sort out the ones that went rotten during the mammoth photography session.

Now rip open your rosella. There should be a green seed pod inside - keep that we need that.
When you rip off the calyx its should be crunchy. That will make sense when you do it.
If the pod is brown and discoloured - discard it but keep the red calyx if its still crunchy. 

Keep your seed pods separate and choose a few really nice looking ones to keep and replant for next year. There is about 30-40 seeds in each pod.

Pop the seeds that you aren't replanting next year into a pot with a cup of water and boil them until they are translucent.

 The idea is that we are going to get the pectin out of the seeds and use the pectin filled water in the jam and discard the seeds. They will go dark brown and see through when they are done.

Pop all the red calyx's into another pot (or wait till the seeds are done and use that one to save on the washing up)

Add the juice of one large (or two small) lemons - again we need pectin as rosella's are very low in it along with the water the seeds were boiled in.

Add a chopped and peeled green apple as well for a bit of body and a bit more pectin.

Boil until everything is soft and mushy. I had to add more water to stop it from boiling dry.

Up until now, the quantities have been fairly vague, but now you need to measure your pulp. I had very little due my minuscule harvest so I measured mine with a soup ladle. 3 scoops was my pulp volume.

Pop your pulp back in the pot and add the same amount of sugar as your had pulp - in my case three soup ladles but you may have a litre of pulp so you will need a litre of sugar.

Gently simmer until the sugar has dissolved and then boil away until setting point has been reached.
The boil will double the volume of the pot - make sure you have enough room left in the pot or it will over flow. If it looks a bit "dry" you may need to add more water or reduce your boil a little. Its more of an art than a recipe, I find...

To see if you are at setting point, I use the method that I watched my Mom use when I was a kid. I put a saucer in the freezer and when I'm ready to test the jam I pull it out of the freezer and blob a small puddle of jam onto it. Wait about 30 seconds and poke the jam on the saucer. If it "wrinkles" ie it forms a skin, then its ready. If not, scrape off the jam with your tongue spoon and pop the saucer back in the freezer for another 5 minutes or so and try again.

I was reading that the setting point is not water evaporation caused by the boiling but a chemical reaction between the sugar, pectin and acid... and apparently if you miss the setting point it will never set and just be a    runny mess... ( Ah so that's what I do wrong sometimes....)

Once you have reached (or missed) your setting point. Turn off the jam so you don't burn it and pop a couple of clean jars 1/2 filled with water in the microwave for 3 minutes. Use a tea towel to get them out with. Tip out the water and immediately fill with hot jam. Pop the lid (that you boiled in hot water for a few minutes (don't put metal lids in the microwave)) on top and wash the sticky jam off the outside of the jar. Sit on the bench and admire.

Listen for the "pop" of the lid to know it has sealed for you and Voila - 2 jars of rosella jam!

This would have been a better ending if I had taken a picture of said Jam instead of rushing out the door for fish and chips down at the beach for one of our students last nights in Brisbane!

Rosella are not usually grown commercially so you wont find rosella jam on the supermarket shelves. Its a backyard jam or sometimes you see it at some boutique place, handmade, for some astronomical figure! Rosella's are the native hibiscus that you see in jars that are sold as champagne flavor-er's! ($7 for about 5 of them boiled in sugar and popped in a jar!)

I have found rosellas fairly easy to grow (considering I can only grow caterpillar and grasshopper food normally) and I have a friend who lines her hot sunny driveway with them each spring and harvests 20 bushes each Autumn here in the suburbs of Brissy. Her jam is just great! They are a tropical plant and there is lots of information about them on the net.

I used a variation of this recipe for my jam and got lots of information about Rosella from this blog.

Have fun rosella jamming! - K xx 

Score card:
Green-ness: growing your own food and popping it into recycled jars - Bright Green!
Frugal-ness: Growing free food and popping it into free jars - very frugal indeed!
Time cost: About an hour - larger quantities will take longer to reach setting point.
Skill level: Rosella may not be the best jam for the beginning jam maker if you haven't got your head around pectin and setting points but then if you have rosella's in great quantities and plenty of time - why not give it a go!
Fun -ness: Great fun, smells wonderful and such a pretty colour!


Juggler said...

I love this jam. I made some about a month ago, although I missed the setting point nad now I have Rosella slop, but it is delicious on vanilla ice cream and crumpets. I am very lucky the school were I work grows heaps of the bushes and offers them to the teachers at a very nice price.

Practical Frog said...

I have missed many a setting point in my jam making journey and also have made ice cream and waffle topping!!! I have saved some seeds and hope to grow more than one and a half bushes for next years rosella jamming endeavors. Nice way for the school to make a few $ too! - K xx

africanaussie said...

I love your comment about only being able to grow caterpillar and grasshopper food as that is the way I feel at the moment. The calyx dried makes a lovely tea and much less fiddly than jam!

Practical Frog said...

Ah - How do you make the tea? Fresh or dried?
I am discovering that there isnt a "caterpiller season" in Australia - there are here ALL the time! - K xx

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