Book Review - The Jam Maker's Garden by Holly Farrell

I was sent a copy of this new book, The Jam Maker's Garden by Holly Farrell with photographs by Jason Ingram to review and I was delighted to read it.  I am likely to enjoy any book that starts with a quotation from Alice in Wonderland and indeed a favourite one about the rule about 'jam today'.  It made a good start.

Some of the best things that can be made with garden produce, in my opinion, are jams and jellies.  This book tells us, from start to finish, how to make the most wonderful of recipes.  When I say from start to finish, I mean the very start.  Holly tells us what varieties to plant, how to plant, how to look after them and when to harvest. Then there are the recipes to try and these are plentiful and many are fascinatingly unusual.  There are over 50 recipes, some of them I am familiar with and some I have never heard of yet now want to explore.
I was taught how to make jam by my maternal grandmother when I was a child.  I think it is fair to say that those early expeditions into jam making were rather hit and miss but I learned the basics and that stood me in good stead.  Then when an adult I returned to jam making whilst at school I learned more about the science of what I was doing which meant I could better understand how to be successful.  I pause for a moment to wonder if jam and chutney making is still taught in schools and I think I can guess the answer to that.

Holly makes sure we understand the basics, talking about how to garden, the soil pests and diseases.  Once we get into the specifics of jam making then there is clear guide to equipment, ingredients and very importantly, definitions. So I now know the difference between a jam, a jelly and a compote.  I know what distinquishes a ketchup from a relish and a curd from a cheese.  Those, what I deemed as 'pretentious' names for such things on menus I now realise have a meaning.

This book is more than jams and jellies, there are curds and cheeses and cordials.  I really want to make some cordial when the rose-hips are ripe.  There is also the recipe for medlar fudge, I think this will be a must try too.  I have made medlar jelly in the past and it is a wonderful thing, but fudge sounds even more amazing.

Making jams etc is not difficult as long as you understand what you are actually doing to the ingredients to achieve your desired aim.  This book is an excellent guide.  It helps you have success and gently explains why you might go wrong.  I really liked this book and I think I will be dusting off my jam-pan very soon.

The Jam Makers Guide is published by Frances Lincoln