Fiddes Net

Barbara's Recipes - Jammy Hints and Tips

Index and introduction to recipes for Jams.

apples
raspberies
gooseberries
marrionberries
damsons

Jammy Hints and Tips

The whole point of jam is to preserve the fruits for later use. Sugar is the preservative and if the jam is made properly it should keep perfectly well in a cool cupboard for up to a year until the fruit ripens again.

Some keep better than others. This is noted in the recipes. It shouldn't be necessary to refrigerate jam!

While Preserving Sugar is generally recommended I find that Granulated Cane Sugar, which is more generally available and cheaper, works well. Jam made with sugar from Sugar Beet does not seem to give as good results.

As a general rule you need the same weight of sugar as fruit for the soft fruits but those with tougher skins which need to cook for a bit to break them up usually require some water and therefore more sugar.

Details follow in the recipes.

The fruit needs to cook for a bit on its own to break it up and release the pectin which is what makes jam set.

However, as soon as the sugar is added the fruit will not soften further so ensure that it has softened and broken down into small pieces before adding the sugar. Big pieces of fruit don't spread well!

When boiling jam the fruit and sugar bubbles up to more than twice the original volume so use a very big saucepan. I usually make 6-8 lbs at a time in a 10 inch saucepan.

To test for setting point, stir the jam with a wooden spoon; lift the spoon out of the jam holding it sideways. Let the jam run off the spoon. If it runs off slowly and forms three drips at the bottom of the spoon it has probably reached setting point.

Put a little onto a cold saucer and take the pan off the heat. After a few minutes, push the surface of the jam in the saucer with your finger. If it is ready it will have formed a skin and wrinkle when pushed. It can then be potted.

If it doesn't form a skin, reboil the jam and test again. As a guide, those fruits which set easily, such as raspberries or gooseberries, will need to boil for about 5 minutes after adding the sugar, whereas fruit with a lot of water content, such as strawberries or plums, will probably require to boil for 10 minutes or more to reach setting point.

When potting the jam, always warm the jars first. Put wax circles on immediately after wiping off any spills.

Leave to cool thoroughly before covering with the cellophane circles.

You should get about one pound of jam for each pound of fruit plus sugar. For example 3 lbs of raspberries need 3 lbs of sugar and should give about 6 lbs of jam. In practice, it is usually a little less as some of the water content of the fruit will be lost during initial simmering.

Many of the following recipes use mixtures of fruit. This is often because I didn't have enough of any one fruit to make a batch of jam.

However, there is also the very good reason of pairing a poor setting fruit with a good setter so as to avoid using lemon juice or commercial pectin to get a set.

For example, strawberries are notoriously poor at setting so you need lemon juice when making strawberry jam but combining them with gooseberries avoids this.

I've never used commercial pectin; use a natural alternative.

As we often only have small quantities of fruit at any one time I also freeze what there is until I have enough to make a batch of jam. This seems to work fine but I usually have freshly picked fruit to add to the frozen.

For example, our brambles ripen before our apples are ready so I freeze the brambles as they ripen and make bramble and apple jam later in the autumn.

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