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Make your own Jam

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by Kat Parr Mackintosh (subscribe)
Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published December 3rd 2010
Do you remember how good jam is? It's a cupboard staple, so we're all inclined to take its pleasures for granted, but in its best form jam is delicious. It's not too strong to say that this is the treat we're allowed to have without feeling like we're calorifically sinning – and the good news is that if you make it yourself it's even less sinful, as it doesn't need quite as much sugar as the supermarkets will have us believe.

Make it yourself?!?, you say. Surely we've moved beyond having to do these sorts of things ourselves these days? Of course we have, but everything's better when its home made, and jams and preserves make excellent, and inexpensive gifts for friends and family – as well as providing another string to your culinary bow. So tastier, better for you, and an inexpensive gift...bet you're thinking it's not such a wacky idea now.

As with all culinary escapades making jams is part art part skill. The basic instructions for the skill element follow, but a large part of the art comes from the flavours you choose to play with. It might be a good idea to start with a basic one or two fruit variety, but there are plenty of things you can add to jam to flavour it. To get you thinking, a couple of brilliant combinations are: apricot and brandy, whiskey marmalade, blackberry with gin, chilli infused red berry jam and strawberries with mint. Don't judge the author for the alcoholic elements of this list – alcohol is great mixed with jam as much of it's heated off during the process, leaving just the flavours and the smell.

Assuming you're going for a basic jam you need 1200grams of fruit, and the same weight in sugar to make two kilograms of jam. Berries are obviously easy fruits to start off with because you don't need to do much to prepare them – stalks, skins, stones and pits that you don't normally eat should be removed from fruit as the first step.

The difference between a jam and a preserve is that preserves preserve the shape of the fruit, where as in jam the fruit is allowed to mush up. So stick to jams initially.

Step 2: Line your pan with a little butter. Use a large, heavy pan, one that's big enough so that you won't fill it. Specialist preserving pans, which have sloping sides are useful but not essential – a big stainless steel pan with a heavy base will do almost as well. Wash your fruit thoroughly and place it into your pan.

Step 3: Simmer fruit for 10 minutes.

Step 4: Take the fruit off the heat and stir the sugar in gradually until it's mixed and dissolved.

Step 5: Put the pan back on the heat and bring it to the boil then keep at boiling point for five minutes. If it gets frothy at this point don't worry just keep stirring. If, after five minutes you still have froth, then take the pan off the heat and stir a little knob of butter which should get rid of it.

Step 6: In order for the jam to properly set it needs to be at 105C when it comes off the heat. Use a thermometer to check, but don't forget to warm it up in water first.

Step 7: Assuming that the temperature is right, the final step is to put your jam into jars – which needs to be done as quickly as possible. Collect jars in advance, sterilising them by sitting them in boiling water for ten minutes and afterwards drying them in the oven at 160C. The reason shop bought jams need so much sugar is to preserve them for longer – you can preserve you home made jams for longer by buying wax disks that you put into the jars on top of the jam. The hot jam will melt the wax which will provide a seal to keep the jam fresh until it's opened. Use a lid as well of course, but this will help keep them airtight.

Don't forget to label and date your jams.

Hints and tips: In case you hadn't realised, making jam is hot work, so prepare yourself and your kitchen – meaning kick out any pets and make sure you've got plenty of extra cloths and a pair of oven mitts. This site has the solutions to some common jam making problems - just in case.
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Why? Home made jam is tastier, better for you and makes an inexpensive gift
Where: In a well prepared kitchen
Cost: Depends on the fruit, but it's even cheaper if you grow your own
Comments
Yummy, home made jam is the healthiest and best thing to do. You can put anything you like in it. At my house we always make jam with the peel of watermelon and also cherries. They have got to be the most popular. My favourite is with orange peel though, because it does not come out too sweet.
By Lil Uni Girl - senior reviewer
Saturday, 1st of January @ 03:05 am
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