Dare we mention the ‘C’ word yet? Yes, we’re talking about Christmas which is now just a few short weeks away. That means that it’s time to start thinking about what gifts to give friends, family and colleagues. For many, actually making those decisions can be as hard, if not harder, than finding them and buying them.
We all want to give gifts that show that we’ve really thought about the recipient and what they like and enjoy. And with so much focus on waste and the throwaway culture, we also want to give gifts that are useful and appreciated, rather than items that will simply end up at the back of a cupboard, resold on eBay, or worst of all, simply thrown away a few days after they’ve been given.
That’s when making your own gifts really comes into its own. Home preserves are the ultimate eco-friendly gift. There’s zero waste, the jars and bottles can be reused or recycled and they typically involve very low food miles and minimal packaging. So if you are ready to have a go at making some festive gifts for Christmas, check out the ideas below for some spectacular boozy jams that will go down a storm this year.
You’ll need minimal preserving equipment and some nice jars to show off your wares, but other than that, there is very little to it. Let’s find out…
Sloe Gin Jam
Most home preserves enthusiasts have tried their hand at sloe gin at some point and with good reason. Done well, it’s a divine and delicious tipple for a winter’s day. But sloe gin jam is just as awesome and it will be much appreciated if you make some to give as gifts to friends and family. If you’ve got some sloe gin already made, you can use the gin-infused sloes from that to make your jam. If not, don’t worry, you can use fresh sloes instead, and add a little gin during the cooking stage.
Start by washing and pricking the sloes and then pop them in a pan with enough water to cover them. Then cook until the sloes have gone soft and pulpy. Add twice the weight of chopped cooking apples, including peel and cores, along with the juice and zest of a lemon. Bring to the boil, then simmer until the apple is also soft and pulpy.
Once cool, use a straining kit or a piece of muslin to strain the pulp. Don’t be tempted to squeeze the pulp through as that will give you cloudy jam. Once all the juice has passed through the straining kit or muslin, measure how much juice has been produced and then add 400gms of sugar for every 500ml of juice, putting everything in a large maslin pan.
Bring to the boil, stirring continuously and skimming off any scum. When the jam reaches setting point (105°C), add a small slosh of gin and stir thoroughly. Then spoon the jam into clean, sterilised jars and label them. You can even use festive-themed labels for an extra special touch.
Other Boozy Jam Ideas
Gin is surprisingly versatile when it comes to making boozy jams and, very often, you can use up the fruit from a previous infused fruit gin in order to make jam. We told you that boozy jams were eco-friendly, didn’t we? If you’ve made strawberry gin or rhubarb gin, try using up the fruits in this way, adding some fresh fruits too in order to make up the weight of fruit required.
Once again, if you don’t have any leftover infused fruits from your infused gin exploits, you can always add a small slosh of gin to your regular jam just before you pour it into your jars - add the gin too soon, and you risk the alcohol evaporating!
Yes, you read that right - you really can make jam out of wine! And you don't need much in the way of preserving equipment either! Pour a bottle of wine into a saucepan and add 120ml of lemon juice and 12g pectin. Bring to the boil and then simmer whilst you add the sugar, stirring constantly. Bring back to the boil and keep boiling for 2 minutes. Skim off any scum and then pour into clean, sterilised Kilner or Mason jars. Secure the two-piece lids and then process in a water bath for 5 minutes.
This syrupy jam is perfect with cold meats, cheeses and other savoury dishes. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll be keeping some back for yourself, rather than giving it all away as Christmas gifts!
Do you have any favourite recipes for boozy jams, jellies or preserves? Why not share them with us on the social media channel of your choice? You can find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and we’re always thrilled to see just what our friends are up to in the kitchen.