Strawberry jam and roses – spring in a jar

Recipe 6 rosesStrawberry and rose petal jam; my signature Dish. How does it happen that one is well known for such a strange combination? I have to boast, but I have Fans of This Jam.

Strawberry jam is one of the quintessentially English things I used to read about growing up in Australia. Soft and subtle and barely set.  I knew it was tricky to make as there was so little pectin in the fruit.  But it does evoke June in a lush and gentle countryside. Picnics. Floaty dresses, floppy hats. Scones. Clotted cream.

So why do I get to make it, and make it my own, in this hot dramatic landscape of the Ardèche high in the hills in rural France?  And combining it with such an English plant. The rose.

That’s globalisation for you. Recipe 6 jam

I could set up business as a Strawberry and Rose Petal jam manufacturer. But I’m strict. I only make enough jam according to the availability of my roses which grow in the courtyard in planters. And each year I have to wait impatiently to see when the roses bloom. End of May, early June, and sometimes I get lucky and get a second flush in August. That way I have the sublime delight of a second batch of strawberry jam. My strawberries (a good French variety called Mara des Bois) grow well into August if kept watered.

But if the slugs get at them, or the hare, or the breakfast crowd, then the strawberries in the potager get augmented with a few punnets from Monsieur Bois at the market. So it is strictly local.

Strongly scented roses work best for this jam. And my Gertrude Jekyll roses, bred by David Austin provide a very old fashioned perfume, combined with just the right light pink colour which blend well with the strawberries.

recipe 6 roses 1The just open roses are best as they are soft and the petals won’t affect the texture of the final jam.  You only add the petals at the very end of the cooking time.  But I do pick early in the morning and wash them well to remove the risk of bug life in the final product.

If you feel you won’t get the scent from your roses, you can add a tablespoon of rose water at the end of the cooking time.

I have adapted this recipe from a British Country Living magazine I found way back in 2006.
I use jam sugar for this recipe (sugar with added pectin) as the strawberries are very low in pectin and can be difficult to set.

Strawberry and rose petal jam

Strawberry and rose petal jam