The seed head of an angelica plant is beautiful to grow and its stems can be used in cooking. Photo: Getty Images

Garden recipe: angelica jam

Herb expert Jekka McVicar gives us her recipe for angelica jam as one of the best recipes she knows for using this majestic herb.

Making jam is great way to preserve lots of fruits and vegetables, so why not preserve herbs in the same way too? Angelica is a herb used to aid digestion and often candid to top cakes. If you want to grow your own Angelica, plant it at the back of borders. It’s a tall plant that produces large flowers in June and July and structural seed heads in the autumn. All parts of the plant have a culinary use, but using the stems to make jam is a great way to preserve its flavour, especially if you do not have the time or patience to candy the stems. As angelica is one of the ingredients used to give gin its flavour, this jam tastes like gin on toast.

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The seed head of an angelica plant is beautiful to grow and its stems can be used in cooking. Photo: Getty Images
The seed head of an angelica plant is beautiful to grow and its stems can be used in cooking. Photo: Getty Images

Ingredients

  • 700g caster/granulated sugar
  • 900g cooked angelica stems
  • 425ml water
  • Rind and juice of a lemon

Method

  1. Choose young tender stems from two-year-old plants. Remove all leaves then cut into lengths that will fit your pan. Fill the pan with water, bring to the boil, add the stems, return to the boil, then lower to simmer. Cook until the stems are tender, approx 25-45 mins depending on the thickness of the stems.
  2. Strain. Refill the pan with fresh cold water and leave the stems to soak overnight (12 hours). Strain and throw the water away.
  3. You may find that if you have used mature stems that they need to be peeled. If that is the case do so now. Then weigh the stems. For every 900g of angelica stems you will need 700g of caster or granulated sugar.
  4. Cut the cooked stems into bite-size pieces, add them to a large saucepan. I use a preserving pan which is a very worth while investment especially if you are often making chutneys, jams and jellies.
  5. Add the water and the sugar. Over a very low heat, stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved, then add the lemon juice and rind. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly until setting point is reached.
  6. To tell when setting point has been reached either use a sugar thermometer the setting point being 200°F/110°C or put a little jam on a chilled saucer, as it cools the jam should begin to set. It will wrinkle slightly when you draw your finger across it.
  7. Cool slightly before pouring into warm, sterilised jars, cover and seal immediately.
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Recipe from Jekka’s Herb Cookbook by Jekka McVicar (Ebury Press, £25, ISBN 978-0091930417).