At this time of year when plastic pumpkins and devils forks and horns begin to appear in all the supermarkets, quite a different phenomenon takes place here in France. The pavements outside florists and corner stores begin to be crowded with large displays of pots of chrysanthemums in gorgeous rich autumnal colours, russet, gold, yellow, and purple. Stalls selling them in abundance set up outside all of the cemeteries (see my last post for information on Parisian cemeteries) and the High streets are filled with colour and nature and the scent of flowers, not witches hats and horror masks and tubs of disgusting cheap sweets to ward off ‘Trick or Treaters’ throwing eggs at you window or burning your car!
‘Halloween’ is celebrated very differently here than in the Anglo Saxon countries. In fact it is not referred to as Halloween at all, but ‘Toussaint’ (all Saints).Toussaint is on the 1st of November and is a public holiday. Families flock to the cemeteries armed with these said chrysanthemums to adorn the graves of their relatives.
I am going to spend Halloween with my family in the UK this year, so won’t be posting for a little while. But before I go I thought that the colours of these late plumbs resembled those of the flowers. They are no longer good for eating (and it is a little too cold now for fruit salad) so I have made some jam…….
If you have not made jam before and think that it is complicated – nothing is simpler, providing that you have some basic equipment
You will need:-
A large pan (preferably copper bottomed, as this distributes the heat more evenly and stops the jam from burning)
A large wooden spoon
A ‘jam’ funnel with a wide aperture
Clean jam jars
Labels (fancy or functional!)
1kg seasonal fruit
500g jam sugar (I use ‘Fruttina Extra’ by ‘Dr Oetker’ this allows for a higher fruit to sugar ratio – if usng regular sugar the ratio is 1kg sugar for each kg of fruit)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Sterilise the jam jars with boiling water, keeping the water inside until ready to use (the jars need to be hot when the jam goes inside to form an airtight seal) I usually wash in the dishwasher immediately before.
Wash and chop up the fruits into small pieces
Put the fruit and sugar into the pan and bring to boiling point stirring constantly with a wooden spoon
Reduce the heat, add the lemon juice and simmer for around 15 minutes
Test that the jam is ready by taking a small amount and placing on a plate that has been in the fridge. If it is set when cooled then it is ready, if not continue to simmer for a further 5 minutes and test again.
Pour the jam into the warm pots, leaving ½ /cm air space at the top and cover with cling film before securely fastening the cap.
Leave to cool – when cool the security button on the cap will become flat as it is on an unopened jar of jam, indicating that there is an airtight seal. Once this happens the jam does not have to be stored in a fridge – only after opening.
Delicious on some home-made bread!