Homemade jam

There is nothing to beat homemade jam! It can’t compete with the commercial jams on price but it wins hands down on flavour, texture, and scoring brownie points with friends and family.

Traditionally, jam is made in a preserving pan, but making smaller quantities in a large saucepan is just as good. The pan needs to be large enough to contain the rising liquid when it comes to a ‘rolling boil’. Jam changes in the pan when it has reached setting point: it becomes much thicker and starts spitting. To test if the jam has set, put a small amount on to a cold plate and a skin should form.

All the soft fruits make delicious jam and various combinations can be used. Blackcurrant and gooseberry jam are two of the most economical to make as they are diluted down with water.

Unopened and stored in a cool, dry place, jam will keep for up to a year. Once opened, keep in the fridge or a cool larder and use within a few weeks.

Strawberries

Strawberry jam

We recommend using jam sugar to make strawberry jam – it’s easy to use and usually has the best results. Jam sugar can be used with both fresh and frozen fruit, and is available from supermarkets all the year round.

Simply put the fruit and sugar in the pan together, saving the tedious traditional layering of fruit with sugar. The jam only needs a four-minute boil, therefore avoiding watching the pot for ages only to finish up with runny jam or toffee on the second boil up.

RedcurrantsRaspberry and redcurrant jam

The following recipe was given to us by a customer.

  • 1 kg raspberries
  • 1 kg redcurrants
  • 100 ml water
  • 2 kg sugar

Wash the redcurrants, remove the stalks and put into the preserving pan with the water. Cook for 5 minutes. Add raspberries and bring quickly to the boil. Stir in the warmed sugar and continue stirring until it has dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil hard until set. Pot and seal.

BlackcurrantsBlackcurrant jam

Blackcurrant jam has a lovely bite to it and suits tastes that do not like food too sweet. This recipe yields 2.25 kg, which is approximately 5 average-sized jam-jars full.

  • 1 kg blackcurrants
  • 1.5 kg sugar
  • 750 ml water

Remove the stalks, wash the fruit and put into a pan with the water. Simmer gently until the fruit is soft and the contents of the pan well reduced, stirring from time to time to prevent the fruit sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Bring to boiling point and boil hard until setting point is reached. Pot and cover in the usual way.

Dessert gooseberriesGooseberry jam

These quantities yield approximately 5 average-sized jam-jars full.

  • 1.5 kg gooseberries
  • 1.5 kg sugar
  • 550 ml water

‘Top and tail’ (optional), wash the gooseberries and put into a pan with the water. Simmer gently for about half an hour, until the fruit is really soft, mashing it to a pulp with a spoon and stirring from time to time to prevent the fruit sticking. Add the sugar, stir until dissolved and boil rapidly until setting point is reached. Pot and cover in the usual way.

Gooseberry and strawberry jam

Makes about 5 or 6 jars of jam.

  •  150-200g gooseberries, topped and tailed
  • 1kg strawberries, hulled, large ones halved
  • 750-1kg jam sugar with added pectin (the more sugar you use, the firmer the set of the jam)
  • 15-20g unsalted butter (optional)
  1. Put the gooseberries in a saucepan with 100ml water. Place on a low heat and cook gently until the gooseberries are tender but still holding their shape. This should take 6-7 minutes, depending on their size and maturity.
  2. Meanwhile, place the strawberries in a roomy, heavy-based pan or a preserving pan. The fruit should be no more than a third of the way up the pan to allow for a rapid rise when a rolling boil is reached.
  3. When the gooseberries are cooked, add to the strawberries. Put the preserving pan on a gentle heat and add the sugar. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has fully dissolved. Then increase the heat and bring the pan to a full rolling boil (ie when the surface is covered with a mass of foamy bubbles). Boil for 8-9 minutes, without stirring too much, until setting point is reached. To check for setting point, drop a little jam onto a cold saucer, allow to cool for a minute then push gently with your fingertip. If the jam crinkles, setting point has been reached.
  4. Remove the jam from the heat and if the surface is scummy add a knob of butter and keep stirring until the scum has dissolved.
  5. Pot into warm, sterilised jars and seal immediately. Label when cold.

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