Norfolk's Best Strawberry Jam

Life seems to slow slightly in the summer months. I've spent some  time at home, soaking in the gentle pace and indulging in home cooking. Dad, you see, has turned from communion to conserves, approaching jam making with just the same diligence. 

The creating of strawberry jam lasted a whole day what with driving to a picking field, getting lost en route, buying sugar, realising we needed more sugar, watching the tennis, boiling the jam, re-boiling the jam and eventually the all important jam setting.  We sat and ate our jam exactly 24 hours after we had picked the fruit from the field and I'm sure you could taste the previous day's sunshine. 


Traditional Lemonade

Roll up, roll up, Ice Cold Lemonade

I don’t know about you, but the second I start to see a glimmer of sun peaking through the dark, heavy clouds of winter, I cannot WAIT to get my hands on a pitcher of ice cold, homemade, old fashioned lemonade. Not the fizzy, transparent, saccharine tainted bottled stuff you might think of – but cool, still, tangy and herbaceous homemade lemonade, made from…well…lemons!

There is something about this drink that transports you, instantly, to some wicker rocking chair, swaying gently on the clapperboard porch of a Louisiana country house…no? Just me? Well, maybe this recipe will take you there.

Making your own drinks can seem a little bit of a hassle, especially if you are cooking a big meal or just, you know, living your daily, busy as anything life. And we have to admit that if you can go and pick up a cordial or litre bottle of something that sounds like it’s slightly fancier than your standard Diet Coke, the temptation can be overwhelming.

But the satisfaction of making your own drinks is second to none. Not even cakes or muffins or roast dinners can compete with the sense of self pride, and even smugness, that comes about when you are gulping on something refreshing, charmingly traditional, and beautifully crafted.

The great thing about this lemonade recipe is that it’s like a good vanilla sponge or brownie recipe – you can customise it any which way you want. Like, say you fancied a tropical kick, just add some finely chopped red chilli in the mix. Or if you felt like you wanted something a little boozier, a splash of limoncello or gin would be beaut. The jug is your oyster so get creative.

We’ve decided to stick to a classic combination of lemon and thyme. That’s right! Step back Sunday roast chicken flavourings, you’ve found a new home now and it’s right in my glass. With ice. And preferably 25 celsius outside. The thyme adds a subtle, garden grass feel that works perfectly with the sharp lemon. And it works even more perfectly if enjoyed in said garden with a barbecue and friends. This drink really couldn’t be simpler and is so SO much better when made by your fair hands. So take a look at the recipe below and let us know what you think! Happy squeezing!

Traditional Lemonade 

4-6 tbsp granulated sugar
6 small lemons – zested & freshly squeezed
1 litre/1¾pints water – still 

1.  Using a little detergent wash the lemons to remove waxy coating and rinse well
2. Zest the lemons into a saucepan, avoiding the white pith which will make the drink bitter. Add the squeezed lemon juice and the sugar.
4.  Gently heat, stirring from time to time until the sugar has dissolved.  Taste and add more sugar if needed. 
5.  Leave to cool and to allow the zest to fully infuse.
6.  Strain and dilute with still or sparkling water.  Serve over ice decorated with slices of fresh lemon and thyme.