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