Friday, 1 July 2011

How to make your own jam - the basics

Jam making includes jellies, marmalades and other fruit conserves and is a popular way of preserving fruit crops. Not only delicious on toast, they can also be used when baking and when preparing desserts.

Most of the equipment needed to make jams, such as scales, funnels and jugs are available in your kitchen but if you are going to make jams, pickles, chutneys and sauces regularly it would be well worth investing in a stainless steel preserving pan.

You can never have enough jars, so ask friends to keep their glass jars for you and you will have plenty and you can reward them with a jar of jam or marmalade

Fruit to be used for making jam, should be ripe but not over-ripe or damaged or your jam may not store well or set. Fruit should be washed and stalks and stones removed before weighing. 

Place the fruit in the pan with a little water and simmer until soft. Cooking the fruit allows pectin to be released which allows jams to set. For low pectin fruits there are a number of ways of increasing the pectin level; by adding a high pectin fruit to your jam such as one finely chopped apple, by adding your own home made pectin or by adding sufficient lemon juice to aid setting. 

Before making jam check your selected recipe which should inform you whether your selected fruit which is high or low in its pectin level. Only when the fruit has softened should the correct sugar to the weight of fruit be added. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly whilst stirring to ensure your fruit does not stick to the bottom of the pan and scorch. 

After boiling for the time recommended by your recipe, check for setting by placing a small amount of jam on a cold plate and after a minute check for surface wrinkling which occurs when setting point has been reached. Pour whilst hot into sterilised jars and place the lids on immediately. Once cooled, clean the jars, label and store in a cool and dark place.

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