It's also been a weekend of rare good weather for this distinctly lack lustre summer which has been a terrific bonus. Friday night was a dash home from work to be in time to hear Jeremy Corbyn speak at Leicester University - it was an interesting experience, the room, a much bigger venue than originally planned, was packed, and without going on at length the best way to describe the whole thing is as refreshing. After that I went home and made jam.
Late night jam making, even (especially?) on a Friday is possibly one of those things that nobody tells you about becoming middle aged, though it's also possible, in so many ways, that it's just me. The crux of the matter was a kilo of ripen at home apricots which had gone directly from greenish with a consistency like granite to wrinkly, wooly, and on the verge of turning to mush with no discernible point of acceptable ripeness Inbetween.
I've learnt my lesson with ripen at home now - it doesn't, not properly anyway, and for what I assume is a sound scientific reason and not just my bad luck, fruit that's been bought under ripe like this boils like lava in the pan. I got a burn bad enough to blister (okay, so it's very small) to prove the point. That aside the jam - apricot and lavender from Diana Henry's wonderful 'Salt Sugar Smoke' is particularly good. It calls for a kilo if apricots stoned and chopped, 600g if sugar with added pectin, the juice of a lemon, and 3 heads of lavender. Everything goes in a pan and is gently heated until the sugar dissolves and the fruit is soft, then boiled in hood earnest until setting point is reached when you remove the stalks and pot it. It makes about 4 pots, 3 stalks of lavender is plenty to give a distinctive flavour, more would be overpowering, and it is one of the nicest jams I've ever had.
It was so good that I had to bake a loaf of bread to spread it on - nothing out of the ordinary about that, but each loaf of bread that emerges crisp and warm from the oven feels like a bit of magic worth celebrating.