9 Pointers For Perfecting Homemade Jam

I hope you like jammin’ too… 

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Making your own jam may seem like a daunting task, but it is actually quite a simple process involving very few ingredients. Honest! It’s far superior to shop bought stuff and one of the most rewarding things to make. You can store it for a long time and give it away as a food gift. 

So why not head out on a berry picking spree? If you follow these tips you’ll be well on your way to making your own delicious jam.

1. Let’s start at the very beginning… 

A trick I learnt is to start by making jam with the standard ratio of equal quantities of fruit and sugar to ensure a good set. Once you’ve mastered a good set, you can experiment with reducing the amount of sugar for a softer set and fresher taste.

2. Size does matter

When making jam, use a bigger pan than you think you will need because the jam bubbles up A LOT and you really don’t want an overflow of molten, red-hot sugar. I did warn you. Ever had a tragic jam disaster like this?

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3. Do some digging 

You need to do a little boring research beforehand about pectin; a substance that’s naturally found in some fruit. You need this for making jam! So check which fruits require added pectin and which don’t. To make jam using most sweet berries, ripe peaches and plums or pears, you will need to use jam sugar or mix it with high pectin fruit because this ensures a good set.

When using fruits that are naturally high in pectin such as apples, citrus fruits and sour berries you don’t need to add extra pectin so you can just use granulated sugar. If you’re a beginner to jam making, follow a recipe to get started.

4. Up the contrast 

Always add some acid in the form of lemon juice if the fruit you are using isn’t naturally acidic; it helps to extract pectin from the fruit and enhances the flavour and colour of the jam. Yum!

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5. Top notch ingredients 

Use fruit that is just ripe, or slightly under ripe, and unblemished for the best results. You can still make jam with less than perfect fruit but it won’t be quite as nice.

6. Let’s heat things up

Jam sets at 105ºC (220ºF). You can use a sugar thermometer to tell when the jam has reached setting point but you don’t need one; instead use the wrinkle test: Before starting your jam, place a couple of saucers in the freezer. Once the jam has boiled rapidly for 5-10 minutes, remove it from the heat and place a small dollop of the jam on one of the saucers. Place it in the fridge for a minute or so then push it with your finger, if the surface wrinkles and the jam doesn’t run back together to fill the gap then it’s ready. If not then bring the pot back up to the boil for another five minutes then test again until it is ready.

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7. Simmer down

Sugar has a hardening effect, so any tough skinned fruits should be simmered until softened before adding the sugar otherwise they will remain tough. Always make sure that the sugar is completely dissolved before you bring the jam to a boil, otherwise, the jam may not set properly and it’ll be horrid and grainy.

8. Let’s keep things clean

Once you’re jam is made, always use sterilised jars. To sterilise, wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water, rinse well then lay on a roasting tray and place in the oven on a low heat for about half an hour. The jars and jam should both be hot when you pot the jam so sterilise them just before you start the jam and leave them in the oven until needed.

9. Take things back a step… 

If the jam hasn’t set after it has been potted and cooled, you can tip it back into the saucepan along with the juice of a lemon and re-boil until setting point is reached.

With those foolproof tips, you’ll be well on your way to becoming the master of jam. Don’t forget to label your produce up and tie a nice ribbon around the jars to add some extra oomf. Spread over scones or a crisp piece of toast and get instagramming!

Hannah is the brains behind Domestic Gothess; a blog about her obsession with amazing baking recipes, creativity, crafts and Ringo the Jack Russell! Be sure to check out her blog (it’s awesome) and follow her on Instagram & Twitter.

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