Over the weekend I made some strawberry jam, with the strawberries that I have in the freezer.
I was very scared of making jam the first time I attempted it and I’ve got to say my jam was awful and rock hard!
Since then, I’m pleased to say, I have got the hang of it and I now find it very easy.
Before you start, put some side plates in the freezer for a few hours. These will be used to test the ‘setting point’
Wash and hull the strawberries
Weigh the strawberries and put into a large pan (the contents will rise as it boils)
Put the same weight of sugar in the pan with the strawberries
Put the pan on a low heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar has melted and the sugar crystals can not be seen on the back of your spoon
As strawberries have a very low pectin level, add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice per 1lb of strawberries.
At this point turn the heat right up and bring to a boil and continue boiling hard. I find the jam burns at the bottom of my pan if I just leave it to boil, so I stir the jam continuously, though other recipes don’t tell you to do this.
After 10 minutes test for the ‘setting point’. To do this, put a small drop of jam on one of the side plates from the freezer. After a few moments, push the jam with your finger and if it wrinkles it’s ready. If it doesn’t wrinkle, continue boiling hard.
Keep checking the jam every five minutes until the setting point is reached.
Take the pan off the heat and leave it for fifteen minutes. If there is scum on your jam, you can skim it off, but I just stir in a small knob of butter which does the same job.
Sterilise some jam jars (gas mark 4 for 5 minutes)
Pour the jam into the jars and seal with lids. I use the jars that have a sealable lid (i.e. the jars that jam is sold in, at the supermarket). This way you don’t need to worry about wax discs to create a seal. As the jam cools, the lids ‘pop’ and make you jump.
The jam stores for ages and ages in a cool, dark place, however, once you have opened a jar, keep it refridgerated.
The pan I use to make jam is a ‘maslin’ pan which is deep enough for jam making. Mine was second hand, which I purchased for £10 from ebay and it was worth every penny.
I have worked out, that because I grew my own strawberries, each jar of homemade jam costs just 22 pence per jar to make. The cheapest strawberry jam I have managed to find, is Tesco’s value jam which is 35 pence per jar and has only 35% of fruit in it too.
Though I do say so myself, I’m sure mine tastes an awful lot nicer.
I commented recently that I had to learn things by reading lots of different books and websites. It would have been much easier for me to have the information all together in one place.
So, i’ve written some jam making tips below, to help you if you are making jam for the first time:
Clean equipment – Always use equipment that is scupulously clean and jars that have been sterilised.
Fruit – Always use undamaged fruit. Fruit with too much damage will spoil the result and the jam is likely to deteriorate quickly.
Pectin – Jams, jellies and marmalade set because of pectin. Pectin occurs naturally in fruit and when cooked with sugar the naturally occurring acid in the fruit, thickens and sets the preserve. Citrus fruit, blackberries, apples and redcurrants have high pectin levels. Soft fruits such as strawberries have a lower pectin level. If fruits are low in pectin then you can add fruits with a higher level of pectin to it or just add a few squeezes of lemon juice which will help them to set. When possible use slightly under ripe fruit when pectin levels will be at the highest.
Sugar – I use granulated but you can use preserving sugar, but it is more expensive. Preserving sugar will help set low-pectin fruits, but I just add lemon juice to granulated sugar, which does the same job.
Quantity – Don’t make too large a quantity at one time. Large volumes of fruit and sugar will take a long time to reach setting point, causing the fruit to break up and eventually dissolve in the jam.
To test for the setting point – Place a few small plates or saucers in to your freezer for a while before you start to make jam, so they are really cold. Pour a small drop of the hot jam on to the plate and wait a few moments. Push the edges of the jam with your index finger and if the jam wrinkles then the setting point has been reached. If it’s not set, continue to boil it and check again in 5 minutes. Don’t overcook. It is tempting to keep cooking to achieve a firmer set. A slightly looser jam is preferable to one that tastes burnt or where the fruit has dissolved. Don’t worry if you didn’t judge your jam setting point correctly and it’s runny, just call it a ‘preserve’ instead.
Scum – There is always a little bit of scum on the jam after the setting point has been reached. Skim it off with a ladle or add a tiny knob of butter and stir. This will dissolve the scum almost instantly.
Leave the jam to settle – Always leave the jam for 15 mins away from the heat, once the setting point has been reached. This will prevent the fruit from rising to the surface of the jar when you pour it in.
I really hope that todays post will help someone to make lovely jam.
Thanks for readingit .