Making Jam And Saving Money
This week sees the introduction of another new Thrifty Habit – Preserve Something. It is summertime, soft fruit is in season, and that makes this the perfect time to make jam.
Home made jam. A joyous jar of summer to spread on your winter toast. A luxury product at a low price. A homely treat to share (or not). Jam-making is slow, sweet and therapeutic, but is it thrifty?
Jam is basically fruit, sugar and a glass jar. Sugar is cheap. If you collect empty jam jars and have a cheap source of fruit in bulk, then you should be able to make jam for the same price as a value-range jam. It won’t taste the same as a budget jam though. It will taste delicious, and be good enough to serve to guests or even give as a gift. Deli jam at the same price as a value jam? Bargain.
Well, mostly. If you don’t have a stock of jam jars you can buy them but your price per jar will jump by at least £0.50. If you don’t have a supply of cheap fruit, your price will jump again. So you could have a cupboard full of preserves by the start of winter for only a few pounds. Or you could have them for a few pounds a jar. Either way they will taste lovely, but the more you have to pay before you get started, the less thrifty it becomes.
On the other hand, a jar of jam and a round of toast is a cheap treat for a crowd of kids. A humble victoria sponge sandwiched with home-made jam and cream trumps an expensive bought dessert any day. A plate of pancakes and home-made jam with extra-thick double cream is a far cheaper treat to feed guests with coffee than any shop-bought cake. And a lot more welcome.
So, yes, preserving fruit is a thrifty habit to get into if you follow the thrifty preserving rules.
Does that make it all sound complicated? I have been making jam and other preserves for years and aside from the basic rules you must stick with about sterilisation (which any preserve recipe book will explain) the process is very, very easy. You just have to be prepared to give it your full attention while you are doing it. An hour in the kitchen, with the radio on, stirring a pot that smells like the very essence of summer… What are you waiting for?