Ever heard of Rosella Jam?
Possibly not, unless you are Australian? So what is it, you say?
Only the best preserve known to man! Known more to our grandparent’s generation as Roselle. The Queensland Jam Plant is a native of Africa and Asia, yet has become such an iconic part of Aussie folklore, Rosella Jam is considered quintessentially Australian.
If you want to make some for yourself and still have loads to share with family and friends this is my Grandmother’s family recipe along with some general tips for successful preserve making. Once you’ve tasted freshly made Rosella jam you’ll be forever spoiled for eating the supermarket brand jam varieties again.
Tart, tasty and packed full of vitamin C, hands down, this is the best jam!
Making the jam is not the arduous operation you think it might be; in fact, picking/sourcing the Rosellas is the most time consuming part of the process.
Growing ‘Rosellas’ in the Garden
The Rosella is a medium shrub that is related to the Hibiscus family and needs a growing season of at least 6 months of warm weather to mature, so is best suited to tropical or sub-tropical areas. The fleshy red calyx can be used in salads, jellies, cranberry-like sauces, jam and cordial, syrups and wine. Furthermore, you could plant the hardy Rosella as a hedge, a fast growing windbreak or privacy screen in the summer garden.
Tips for Jam/Preserve Making
For Rosella or any other jam, the addition of a good knob of butter when adding the sugar will prevent most scum from rising to the top. Any that does rise, can be stirred in on completion of cooking.
Other points to watch are:
- Warm sugar for quicker dissolving.
- Use a wooden spoon for stirring and never over boil, as this darkens the colour.
- If you must add extra water, add it to the seeds when boiling. If you add water when cooking the petals, you will need to purchase a jam setting agent (available from supermarkets) in order to make the jam set, as the seeds are the parts from which the pectin is sourced. It is the pectin that makes the jam set.
To Prepare Jars for any Jam Preserves:
- Wash jars well with a bottle brush, detergent and warm water.
- Dry and warm the jars by placing on a tray in a low oven, heated to around 120 degrees Celsius, for 10 minutes.
- Pour boiling water over the lids and drain.
- Fill the jars with jam whilst they are still warm.
- 1 teaspoon of butter
- The juice of 1 lemon
- Separate red calyxes from the seedpods
- Wash and drain each seperately.
- In a saucepan, add seeds and water until the seeds are just covered. Tip: (Add a little extra water to the seeds, at this stage, if necessary, rather than adding extra later)
- Bring to boil and cook covered, for 30 minutes.
- Strain and reserve the juice in a second saucepan. The seeds can now be discarded.
- To this juice, add the red calyxes which have been thoroughly washed and drained. The calyxes may not be completely covered with juice, but they will boil down very quickly.
- Boil for 20 minutes until a 'pulp' is formed
- Measure the volume of cooked pulp and return to pan. (measurment is needed for step 10)
- Add one good teaspoon of butter, and the juice of one lemon.
- Add an equal amount of warmed sugar to pulp. For example add 1 cup of sugar to each cup of pulp, stirring well till all the sugar is completely dissolved. (pre-warm sugar on a heat proof tray, in a oven on low heat)
- Boil quickly uncovered for 20 minutes or until jam falls thickly from a spoon when tested.
Fill jars with jam while the jars and jam are still warm. Allow to cool a little and then seal.
Trust me, you will have the family begging for more…
Delicious on toast, scones or pancakes, or even as chutneys, Rosella jam is worth ‘Pondering About ‘
Article and photos by Amanda Mac.
Amanda Mac is an avid gardener and writer based in Brisbane Australia. She enjoys cooking with produce from her backyard veggie plot and sharing what she knows on her blog "Something to ponder About."