IKEA everyday rituals

Family jamming

Sharing laughs and passing down recipes is one of this family's favourite ways to spend an afternoon indoors.

The deliciously fragrant cloud of sugar, fruit and spices would be hard to miss if you found yourself anywhere close to the London home of "The Blackistani Family" (@theblackistanifam) during one of their beloved baking sessions. Today is one such afternoon where couple Asiyah, Ash and their three children are making fresh strawberry jam from scratch... and plenty of family memories!

At home (sweet home) with The Blackistani Family

It's fair to say that food – sweet or otherwise – is a big deal for this family, whose dual Pakistani and Jamaican heritages each come with distinctive cuisines and a strong cultural importance placed on food.

Home-cooked, traditional dishes like chicken biryani and curry goat feature regularly on the family's weekly menu, which the couple hope to pass down to their children as they grow up. But living in the UK, British baked goods are a household hit too. "It really takes me and Ash back to our '90s days!" smiles Asiyah, fondly recalling the jam and coconut squares, sponge puddings and roly-poly cakes that they enjoyed at school growing up.

"It gets everyone together, everyone has a role to play, it’s fun and it creates memories." – Ash

Sweet treats are also a surefire way to get the kids excited about being in the kitchen in a relaxed, creative environment – especially on the weekend, when the pressures and busy schedules of the school week are a world away. “There’s no routine," Asiyah explains. "You just go with the flow and enjoy it."

Ultimately, it's less about the tasty outcome and more about that ever so precious quality time between putting on aprons and taking the first bite. “Baking is an important family-bonding ritual," explains Ash. "It gets everyone together, everyone has a role to play, it’s fun and it creates memories.”

Now, back to the strawberry jam, which is bubbling away nicely on the hob and almost ready. It couldn't be easier to make: washed, chopped strawberries are simmered at a medium heat with roughy an equal weight of sugar, a splash of water, some cinnamon and a good squeeze of lemon. The kids take turns to stir with supervision from mum and dad. After about 20 minutes, with the fruit cooked down and in a thickened gel-like consistency – hooray, you've got jam!

"This whole ritual actually brings back amazing memories for us." – Asiyah

Berries of all kinds hold a special significance for the family: their youngest son Noah has autism, and struggled to connect to food early on in life. Messy food play, which they first explored with strawberries and other red fruits, was an immensely helpful tool in building his curiosity and confidence with different colours, textures and flavours. "So this whole ritual actually brings back amazing memories for us," Asiyah says.

Once cooled, most of the jam will be bottled in sterilised jars, a great way for the family to make the UK's short strawberry season last well beyond the summer months. But of course it needs to go through "quality control" – the family each grab a mini tart crust, and fill it with a spoon or two of jammy goodness. A tough job indeed, but someone has to do it!