Home-made jam made easy
Summer's a great time to make best use of seasonal fruit and knock up some fresh home-made jam or chutney. So, where is that old jam recipe which has been passed down the family from generation to generation? Can’t find it? Well never mind, jam is so easy to make and this is how!
Preserving food allows you to make bulk quantities of a product, which will last for a long time if stored in constant conditions. Jam is one of the cheapest, easiest ways of preserving and you can use almost any fruit. All you need is the fruit, a cooking pot and some jam sugar (available from Waitrose or any good supermarket).
Jam sugar comes preloaded with the right amount of pectin, which is usually extracted from apple pips and this is what makes the jam set. If you don't have jam sugar then you can always use ordinary sugar and add pectin (again available at Waitrose or any good supermarket) at the end.
Making jam is one of the most enjoyable experiences. It’s not just great to eat afterwards, but it provides a beautiful fragrance throughout the house; it’s entertaining for friends and family, and great for involving the kids, especially when the jam labels need decorating. However, most of all it allows you to prove to yourself that you can make absolutely anything in your kitchen!
Equipment and top tips
Stainless steel pan: A stainless steel preserving pan is used because it has a thick, heavy base which protects the jam from burning and it also holds large quantities of a mixture. Once finished, soak the pan in warm soapy water while hot or place straight away into a dishwasher. If you don’t, the jam will set hard on the pan and will require some strong elbow grease!
Jam jars: You'll need sterile glass jam jars with lids. To sterilise them, take off the lids and place both jars and lids into a pre-heated oven (180°C) for 5 minutes. This will prevent growth of harmful bacteria once the jam jars are stored away in cupboards. Also, the glass jars can crack once the hot jam is poured into them; cold jars rapidly heated causes ‘heat shock’ of the glass. You can wash them in the dishwasher but don't use any detergent. Time the cycle to finish just as you're ready to fill the jars as they'll be warm.
Once you’ve filled a jar, place the lid on straight away because if you wait the glass retains more and more heat, becoming very hot to touch and more difficult to hold to screw the lid on to. Traditional glass lever arm jars are easy to close, and look pretty too.
Jam thermometer: the temperature range on a jam thermometer is much greater compared to an ordinary thermometer, so it’s essential to ensure that the temperature of the mixture is at 104-105°C as this is the “setting” point and this will guarantee that your jam won’t be runny!!
Jam funnel: essential to avoid making a sticky splattered worktop! A jam funnel is stainless steel, and the jam won’t stick to it.
Labels: hopefully obvious - labels are essential if you want jam and not chutney on your toast!
Easy strawberry jam
- 1 kg of fruit or vegetables of your choice such as strawberries, blackberries, plums, peaches, pineapple.
- 1 kg of jam sugar
- Knob of butter (optional)
- Wash the strawberries and remove all stalks and leaves (remove pips, pith and skin as needed with your chosen fruit). Dry on kitchen paper and place into the preserving pan
- Mash the fruit to your preference. If you like lots of lumps them leave some whole; if you like it super smooth then use a hand blender.
- Bring the mixture to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the fruit/vegetables have softened.
- Add the jam sugar to the mixture and stir well until the sugar has completely dissolved, then bring the mixture back to the boil
- Boil the jam, stirring continuously to avoid burning until the jam reaches 104-105°C.
- When it comes to the boil, you can either skim off any scum with the ladle or add the knob of butter which will clear it
- Remove the mixture from the heat and carefully ladle the jam while still hot into sterile jars, using the jam funnel.
- Add wax circles (help to prevent spillages - optional), and put the lids on quickly as you fill each jar
- Once jars are cool enough to touch, add labels.
- Store the jam in a cool dark cupboard. Once opened, keep in the fridge.
- Why not try it with apples, pears, blackcurrants or oranges? Or even make it savoury with mint, jalepenos or chilli? Look at our recipes for diabetic raspberry jam and sweet chilli jam.
Jam is also delicious on home-baked scones! Find out how to make the perfect scones with this step by step recipe (opens in a new window) from Waitrose.