Making jam is the ideal way to preserve the taste of summer fruits so they can be enjoyed throughout the year. Always choose just-ripe or slightly under-ripe fruit for making jams as it has a higher pectin content and your jams will be more likely to set successfully.
Different fruits have different levels of pectin and therefore will set differently. Fruits such as blackcurrants, redcurrants, gooseberries, and cooking apples have high levels of pectin and so will set will. Fruits such as strawberries, cherries, and blackberries have low levels of pectin and so will not set too well. Therefore, it is common to mix fruits with high pectin with fruits with low pectin in order to make delicious well set jams. Many people use pectin (a plant derived powder) as a setting agent, however it is possible to make wonderful well set jams using just sugar and fruit since the fruit itself contains pectin.
Jams, jellies, marmalades, preserves, and conserves are sweet spreads made from fruit or juice, they differ in firmness, clarity and ingredients.
Jams ~ are made from fruits cooked with enough sugar to preserve the fruit. They are set, but spreadable.
Conserves ~ are similar to jams, but they have a softer set- the fruit is suspended in a thick, fruity syrup.
Jellies ~ are made from the juice extracted from the fruit pulp, boiled up with sugar to make a clear preserve.
Marmalade ~ is a soft gel with pieces of fruit and citrus peel.
You will see some of my recipes call for caster sugar, this dissolves easier, and you don't run the risk of burning your jam. Caster sugar is white, granulated sugar with very fine sugar crystals. It is also called superfine sugar, ultra fine sugar or bar sugar. Regular granulated sugar has coarser crystals than caster or superfine sugar.It may also be used in making preserves, jams, marmalades and sugar syrups.
* TESTING FOR SETTING POINT
Temperature Test ~ Put a jam thermometer into centre of jam after about 8 minutes. Leave in position till the jam reaches 105C
Saucer Test ~ Drop 1 tsp of jam onto a chilled saucer and leave to cool for a couple of minutes. Push your finger through the jam-if the surface wrinkles, jam is ready. Return to heat and boil a little longer if required.
* STERILIZING JARS
Oven~ Put washed jars on a baking sheet and heat at gas-1/ 140C/(120C fan oven) for 15 mins.
Microwave ~ Quarter fill 4 jars with water and heat on high for 5 minutes. Tip out water and invert onto a kitchen paper-lined tray.
Dishwasher~ Run upturned jars through a hot cycle.
TUTTI FRUITI JAM
A great jam that works well due to the combination of high-medium and low pectin content of the different fruit.
~ Makes 2.7kg / 6lb
450g blackcurrants, stripped from the stalks
450g redcurrants, stripped from stalks
450g strawberries, hulled
1.8kg granulated sugar
Place the blackecurrants and redcurrants in a large preserving pan with 150ml water. Bring to the boil then gently simmer for 15-20 minutes until the skins of the currant are soft. Add the strawberries and raspberries, simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly until it has reached setting point.Pour into cooled, sterilized jars and seal.
Using firm fruit to make this jam gives a better flavour.
The jam will keep unopened for at least 12 months if stored in a cool, dark place.
~ Make around 3.5-4kg
2kg gooseberries, topped & tailed
Put the gooseberries and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until some of the skins have broken. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Bring to the boil and contine to boil for 8 minutes, then test for setting point.(see tip for setting point) Leave to cool for 5 minutes, stir and ladle into sterilised jars. Seal immediately, label and date.
KIWI FRUIT JAM
Makes about 625ml
12 large Kiwi fruit (1.2kg)
2 tbsp apple pectin
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Cut peeled kiwi fruit into eighths, discard the seeds and core.
Blend or process the water, lemon juice & 1tbsp of the sugar until smooth.
Add the kiwi fruit and process until chopped coarsely. Combine the kiwi fruit mixture with the remaining sugar in a large saucepan, stir over a heat, without boiling until the sugar dissolves. Boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Stir in the pectin and boil for 30 seconds or until the jam jells when tested.Pour hot jam into warm sterilised jars and seal whilst still hot.
* You can add Green food colouring to the jam. This gives the jam a lush, green colour. Its optional and the jam tastes just as delicious without the colour anyway.
Makes about 1.25 Litres
20 (1kg) Apricots
60ml fresh lemon juice
Half the apricots and remove the stones. Combine the apricots, water and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered for about 15 minutes or until the apricots are tender. Add the sugar, stir over heat, without boiling, until the sugar dissolves.
Boil, uncovered, stirring occasinally for around 30 minutes or until the jam jells when tested. Stand for 5 minutes. Pour the hot jam into warmed sterilsed jars, seal whilst hot.
Enjoy this jam with croissants for a breakfast treat.