Salt, Pepper and a Dollop of Cream

One Woman's Journey through Her Cookbooks

When Your Sugar Thermometer isn’t working … BASH IT!

This is a bit of a long story and I’ll get to the bashing bit near the end {have to draw you in, don’t I?}.

We’d collected our first and most likely only crop of plums from our tree on Monday. I love plums and despite only being five years old, our tree has in the past provided us with seriously large amounts of fruit, so much so that we usually give some away to neighbours and friends. However, this summer has not been kind to fruit or vegetables with little or no warm days to encourage growth. And this crop of plums was really only fit for jam so yesterday was destined to be Preserves Day!

So, the plums were duly soaked in salty water to kill any creepy crawlies, the weighing scales, maslin pan and my new Kilner sugar thermometer taken out ready for action, my book of preserves retrieved from the book shelf. I’d bought other preserves books before when trying to find a recipe to make pear jam {that’s a story in itself for another time!} but this book is the only one now for me – Beryl Wood’s Let’s Preserve It {Square Peg }. It’s been around since 1970 so you know it’s gotta be good! The book is broken into three sections:

  1. Equipment and Preparation
  2. Points to Remember
  3. The A-Z Recipes for Preserving.

Easy to follow and LOGICAL. Thank you Beryl!

I found a recipe for Victoria plum jam which was really great given that our plums are that variety. I followed the recipe to the letter, nose, whatever you like to call it yourself. No deviation. I washed and halved the plums, weighed them, put them in the pan with a small amount of water and simmered them until soft, added the sugar then boiled rapidly until the setting point was reached.

Now Beryl advised that if using a sugar thermometer, the setting point is reached at 104oC. No problem, I said to myself and looked at my shiny new thermometer only to find it WASN’T MOVING! The flaming needle was stuck and my jam was heading for a scorching fast. So, oven glove on I bashed the thermometer off the base of the pan and it moved a bit. I bashed it again and lo and behold it moved to 104oC and no more. Off with the gas! I left the jam to cool for a short while then potted it in my nicely sterilised Kilner jars. I’m sorry to say that some of the jam had burned on the bottom of the pan…huh!

What did I learn yesterday:

  • That my luck with thermometers {of which I’ve had quite a few in my time} runs no better than ever
  • That given this luck, I need to keep a good eye on my jam as otherwise it would be a case of burn, baby, burn – as it did
  • That {ahem, really hard to admit here}, Hubbie was right to only buy 1kg of sugar as my 3kg crop of plums ended up at 1kg by the time I’d finished picking them over …

If you’re preserving anytime soon, do share your story, whether a success {my nose will of course be totally out of joint} or a horror story {where I’ll sympathise and console you}. And if anyone out there knows of a sugar thermometer that does actually work and will last a LONG TIME, please let me know. Thanks 🙂

2 comments on “When Your Sugar Thermometer isn’t working … BASH IT!

  1. Maura
    September 1, 2012

    My dad has one from when he worked in Lemons! But he won’t let anyone touch it 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Irish Food Bloggers Association

Member of the Irish Food Bloggers Association

%d bloggers like this: