Books

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Contents - Re­viewer Alys Hurn is staff writer for Gar­dens Il­lus­trated.

New books, in­clud­ing Five Sea­sons of Jam by Lil­lie O’Brien

Dis­cover in­trigu­ing jam recipes for fruits, in­clud­ing rasp­ber­ries and figs, as well the more un­usual per­sim­mons and sea buck­thorn, in Five Sea­sons

of Jam by Lil­lie O’Brien,

Chef Lil­lie O’Brien’s ca­reer has been built on us­ing all parts of the plant or an­i­mal. Pre­serv­ing is an im­por­tant el­e­ment of that ethos and her love of mak­ing and bot­tling flavours has led her to open the Lon­don Bor­ough of Jam shop in Hack­ney, and write her first book Five Sea­sons of Jam, a col­lec­tion of sea­sonal recipes for jam, jelly, wine and vine­gar.

As the ti­tle sug­gests, there are five sea­sons to the jam maker’s year; mid to late spring, sum­mer, early au­tumn, late au­tumn, and win­ter to early spring. O’Brien be­gins each sec­tion with a de­light­ful anec­dote about track­ing down the fruit for her jam, and the peo­ple she meets.

All the recipes make small-batches, so that the end prod­uct is fruit-driven rather than sugar-driven, and al­though the in­gre­di­ents list is of­ten short, it’s ad­ven­tur­ous.

O’Brien uses an im­pres­sive num­ber of fruit va­ri­eties, es­pe­cially plums: ‘Mar­jorie’s Seedling’ and mirabelle are used as much as green­gage and ‘Vic­to­ria’. I love how she in­cludes of­ten dis­carded parts of fruit and veg, such as the leaves of black­cur­rant bushes and tomato plants. O’Brien also uses fruit ker­nels and nuts, as well as a host of herbs and spices and out of the or­di­nary in­gre­di­ents, such as Earl Grey tea, co­coa nibs, wa­ter­melon rind and Tokay wine.

The chal­lenge lies in the prac­ti­cal­ity of find­ing this amaz­ing ar­ray of in­gre­di­ents. Many of recipes rely heav­ily on the reader hav­ing space for an or­chard and time to grow their own, or a well­stocked farm shop or nearby farm­ers’ mar­ket. A list of rec­om­mended re­gional sup­pli­ers wouldn’t go amiss, so that keen cooks can get their hands on cov­etable pro­duce. But, if you’ve been wait­ing for a rea­son to buy a fruit cage, this is it.

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FIVE SEA­SONS OF JAM by Lil­lie O’Brien Pho­to­graphs by Elena Heather­wick Kyle Books, £20 ISBN 978-0857834393

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