Rutland's Rosie Makes Jam is on a mission to share her love of preserving with online workshops
One Rutland woman is on a mission to take advantage of our new found love of cooking by running online lessons in preserving. Editor Kerry Coupe joined a virtual lemon curd making session to find out more...
The kitchen has been a popular place to go during lockdown.
A study out this week found that eight out of 10 adults have taken on a new hobby since the first lockdown was announced a year ago, with cooking and baking featuring in the top 10, alongside gardening and exercising.
Rosemary Jameson, who lives in Rutland, is among those taking advantage of this new-found love with the launch of Rosie’s Preserving School in which she shares her lifelong passion of preserving food naturally by using Zoom to pass on her skills.
She says there is no better time to learn something new - especially if your newly-acquired skills reward you with a produce you can be proud of.
“You can find things to preserve almost everywhere. It’s not expensive, it’s simple and you don’t really need any special equipment to get going,” says Rosie.
With the next set of lessons set to start in April, I joined a lemon curd making session - from the comfort of my own kitchen - to find out what attendees are in for.
I’ve always loved baking and am no stranger to making jam but for some reason making my own lemon curd has never occurred to me.
Following the lesson with Rosie, I now realise the error of my ways.
The class lasted an hour as Rosie shared her love for preserving, as well as a whole range of hints and tips for other things we could do with the multi-talented lemon - but in reality making a jar full of curd actually could take 10 minutes from start to finish.
Ahead of the lesson, a list of ingredients and any equipment you’ll need is provided so you can get prepared in advance.
A recipe is also given in case you get stuck - although Rosie does it at the same time, answering questions that people might have along the way.
Rosie showed us how to make lemon curd both on the hob and in the microwave, making no apologies for following the easier method of the microwave in her everyday life.
“I’m not someone who’s about making work for myself,” laughs Rosie when someone queries the recipe using all the eggs.
“I just want life to be easy and to use all the products.
“A lemon curd is a really wonderful thing to have.”
“It always amazes me how easy this is to make but it’s like the holy grail at village fetes.
“People will wait for years to buy fresh lemon curd where they could easily make it themselves.”
The quickest way is always the way Rosie will choose to go as she’s determined to bust the two myths about preserving – that it is difficult and that it is time-consuming.
During our class, she describes vinegar, salt and sugar as the “holy trinity of preservatives” and even champions sugar, saying it’s from a natural product and that people don’t eat huge quantities - even in a cake.
Heading back to our curd, Rosie gives us lots of tips for what else we can do with our lemons, from making our own cleaning products to limoncello. She also tells us how to store the lemon, including the zest, in the freezer.
She says we don’t honour the lemon because it’s so ubiquitous.
“This is a magical fruit really,” said Rosie. “It’s highly antibacterial, lots of vitamin C and the zest is the most important part of the lemon in my view.
“Think before you cut it, what am I going to do with it? Then you can make sure you use all of the properties so you don’t throw it away.”
Of the lemon curd, she says she find it “baffling” that people will buy it at food fairs, given it’s so easy to make.
“It’s a wonderful thing to make and it only takes a few minutes.”
“I find it magical. I’m very passionate about preserving and lucky to do it for a job.”
At the end of the class, Rosie signs off by reminding us that our freshly-made jars of lemon curd, once cooled, must be stored in a fridge for up to six weeks - but with a smile, she suggests it probably won’t last the long. Some of the participants were already tucking into it warm on a slice of bread as I signed off.
Mine lasted a little longer. I took the class on Wednesday last week (March 17) and on Sunday, I poured the entire jar into a truly homemade lemon meringue pie which was devoured over the next few days. Watch out Great British Bake Off - here I come!
While coronavirus and lockdown might have been the catalyst for moving the classes online, Rosie will continue with online lessons long after lockdown eventually ends.
In 2017, Rosie was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully she has now fully recovered but says the experience has taught her that standing teaching lessons is no longer for her.
“This is comfortable for me and it’s comfortable for those taking part, lockdown or no lockdown. They’re in their own kitchens with equipment they know.
“I just want people to learn how easy it is and how enjoyable it can be.”
So far the online workshops have appealed to a wide range of participants - from beginners to those looking to making their own preserves to sell.
In 2020, Rosie saw an increase of more than six-times in the sales of jam making and preserving equipment sold through her website lovejars.co.uk
A report in The Grocer earlier this year showed the sales of jam in 2020 to be up almost 23 per cent on previous years.
Each term of classes is based around the season so produce is available, particularly for those who grow their own, and Rosie’s everyday brown sauce will kick off the spring term on April 14.
Individual workshops, lasting 90 minutes, are priced at £19.90 each or £49.90 for the entire season of six and anyone - from amateurs to experienced cooks - can join.
Any equipment they might not have at home can be purchased via LoveJars.co.uk
After the class, the recorded Zoom is shared with participants for anyone who might have got lost along the way.
For a full list of available classes and to book visit https://www.lovejars.co.uk/rosies-preserving-school/
How to make Rosie's lemon curd
Large jug or bowl
You will need jars - 2 220ml/8oz jars or equivalent
Large lemons 2
Caster sugar 75g/3oz
Free range eggs 2 large
Wash the jars in warm soapy water, rinse and place in a warm oven to dry.
Place sugar into the large bowl and grate the lemon zest into it.
Squeeze the juice from the lemons and place in the second bowl, add the eggs and whisk together with a fork or whisk.
Strain this mixture through the sieve onto the sugar mix - do not push the residue through the sieve.
Add the butter cut into small pieces.
Microwave in short bursts of between 30 seconds and one minute depending on the power of your microwave - you don’t want the mixture to become overheated as you will end up with lemon-flavoured scrambled egg!
(Alternatively place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and heat whilst stirring. This will take about 20 minutes).
Stir between each burst of cooking until the mixture coats the back of a spoon - it will thicken on cooling.
Put into warm jars and refrigerate as soon as it is cool enough. Keep refrigerated and use within six weeks.