Who’s who: Islington’s preserve professional Thane Prince – from BBC show The Big Allotment Challenge – releases recipe book
- Credit: Archant
TV jam judge and long-time Islington resident Thane Prince knows a thing or about preserves.
Ever since watching her mother create chutneys during the post war years, she’s honed her craft to perfection and her expert knowledge was called upon to mark the efforts of conserve hopefuls on BBC 2 Show The Big Allotment Challenge in the spring.
Since then, the fanatic Arsenal fan has been busy pondering potential celebratory FA cup winning curds, and now she’s brought out a recipe book so anyone can try making their own marmalade.
“I had the idea while I was judging on the show,” she said. “I realised a lot of people don’t know where to start. It’s a very old fashioned skill, although it seems to be regaining popularity.
“A lot people on the show were great growers but couldn’t get started in the kitchen, so I thought there might be another way round.
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“Each chapter starts with a perfect recipe for jam or chutney. If you went through the book you would end up ten varieties, which is frankly as many as anyone needs.
“But if you do want to go further, there are ten within each chapter.”
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Ms Prince says it’s a myth specialist equipment is needed to start a spread. “Go to Chapel Market, get some bits and everything else will be in your kitchen already,” she claims – and she uses casserole dishes, jugs and so on.
But some things in the preserve process are sacred, and can’t be tinkered with.
“Making you own jam is great, because you get control. But don’t you touch the sugar.
“Jam is exact science. We’re not taking about the sloppy continental stuff with a checked lid.
“There’s nothing wrong with that, but British jam is set and you can’t mess about with the proportions.
“It has to be the right balance of pectin, acid and sugar. That’s why so many people fail because they start with strawberry, and its the hardest one to make because it doesn’t contain any pectin or acid.
“Why not add some red currants?”
And as a preserve professional, why does Ms Prince think the humble jam is becoming more in vogue?
“I am slightly older,” she said. “Part of the post war generation who remembers my mother preserving stuff.
“People had to keep things in the pantry and in north Norfolk the night’s were long and dark.
“These days we don’t need to, we live in a time of plenty but that doesn’t mean we don’t get gluts.
“And people like to be in control of their food and grow their own - just look at the waiting list for allotments.”
As an Islington resident, in various addresses, since 1978 Ms Prince is a keen Gooner. And following the club’s FA cup triumph in May, could be about to marry two of her favourite things.
“I am a massive fan,” she said. “I’ve often worn the polyester shirt.
“I did wonder about making a jam for the final – strawberry would have been the perfect red colour. Although I’d have probably had to add some French liqueur.
“Or better yet, a chutney to represent the team, with Spanish paprika and served with a German sausage.”