You may be surprised to find that jams do more than fill the holes in your breakfast crumpet. In fact, there's a whole range of exciting and inventive ways to use the fruity spread in your cooking.
To celebrate our strawberry jam taste test winners, here's 10 sweet ideas to pump up the jam next time you hit the kitchen, from sticky glazes to tempting toasties to cheese platters, and more.
1. Add some to yoghurt or porridge
Give that slightly sour natural yoghurt a little sugar hit with the addition of a spoonful of the sweet stuff. Stir in your favourite jam and you have instant flavoured yoghurt.
Or mix some jam through your morning porridge and top with flaked almonds for a satisfying start to the day.
2. Glaze everything!
Create finger-licking and deliciously sticky dinners that are guaranteed to bring the fussiest of eaters to the table by melting jam with a little hot water to make a glaze for meats.
Use to brush over rib racks, chicken drumsticks or pork fillets. As a starting point, apricot jam is a classic pairing with chicken, while marmalade works beautifully with a leg of ham, and red meats can stand up to the sweeter flavour of strawberry or raspberry jam.
You can also sweeten gravy too. Just add one tablespoon of jam with one tablespoon of mustard and one cup of stock to your pan juices. Then reduce the sauce and serve alongside roasted meats.
3. Flavour your own ice cream
It's always vanilla that's left behind in the Neapolitan ice cream tub. Turn to your jam stocks to transform a plain dessert into an all-out spoon fight.
Soften the vanilla ice cream a little, then mix through a jam of your choice for an immediately redeemed creamy treat. You could even mix your jammy ice cream in a food processor until very soft, then pour into ice block moulds for delightful homemade popsicles.
4. Turbocharge that toastie
Stop! Before you go to make another ham, cheese and tomato toastie with a boring, old slice of tomato, why not jazz up the humble jaffle with a little jam?
Sweet fruit and melted cheese is a match made in flavour heaven, so spread your bread with a slick of marmalade or apricot jam and stand-by for a toastie that takes lunch to the next level.
5. Pop it on a cheese platter
Fruit has long been a fixture on the entertainer's cheese platter, providing a sweet foil to a bitey cheddar or lusciously creamy camembert.
For a cheese plate thrown together quickly for last-minute guests, jam does a wonderful job of standing in for fresh fruit or quince paste. Actually, it's so good you're likely to make it a mainstay on all future party platters.
6. Voila vinaigrette!
Can't endure another unexciting garden salad? Fear not, you can liven up any salad with a vinaigrette featuring a sweet and fruity jam.
Whisk up a spoonful of jam with a little oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and drizzle over everything from a leafy green salad to a warm roast vegetable dish and expect requests for seconds.
7. Elevate your cakes
There's a reason Devonshire teas are eternally popular. It's because jam, cream and cake make for the most irresistible union.
Spread jam on your scones, sure, but take it further and sandwich your sponge cakes with jam and cream, fill doughnuts with a squeeze of jam (you can even use store-bought doughnut puffs for this), and even mix a tablespoon or two through your cake batter before you bake.
8. Make a sweet syrup
Jam is just a boil away from becoming a lovely, versatile syrup for sweets and treats. Simply heat with a little hot water until the jam melts into a syrup and use to drizzle over everything from cakes to pancakes, crepes and even a wheel of melted brie for a decadent party snack.
This syrup also makes a great addition to creative cocktails – think gin with blueberry syrup or spiced rum with marmalade syrup.
9. Cheat at dessert
A humble jar of jam is the key element to an easy, thrown together dessert you can make with pantry staples.
Spread a frozen puff pastry sheet with jam, top with sliced banana, peaches or apple, glaze with more jam, and sprinkle with spices and nuts. Throw in the oven until puffed and golden and you have a cheat's treat you can dollop with cream or yoghurt. It's a safe bet to satisfy a ravenous brood.
10. Make better biscuits
Almost any biscuit can be improved by being sandwiched with a slick of glossy jam. Of course, you can do this with plain, store-bought biscuits to accompany an afternoon cuppa, but try making your own shortbread and filling with jam for a more special occasion.
Better yet, give CHOICE food expert Fiona Mair's delicious jam drop recipe a go – see below.
How to make jam drops
- 150g butter, softened
- ½ cup caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 egg
- 1 cup desiccated coconut
- 1¼ cup self-raising flour
Makes approximately 20
- Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl and, using a hand mixer on medium speed, mix until creamed.
- Add the egg, coconut and flour and mix on low speed until combined. Roll tablespoonfuls into balls and place, 5cm apart, on a lined baking sheet. Press a thumb print into the centre of each ball and spoon a teaspoon of your favourite jam into the indent.
- Place in the fridge for 15 minutes to allow the dough to firm so it won't spread too much when baking.
- Preheat oven to 170°C (fan-forced). Bake for 12–15 minutes or until golden.
Allow to cool slightly on the tray to firm up, biscuits will be soft when they come out of the oven. Transfer to a cooling rack when firm and dust with icing sugar.
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