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Sunday, 24 August 2014

A - Z of summer: Day 10 - J

Day 10 is the letter J - Jam.

Taken from Hobbycraft

I love that i no longer live in a busy city. I am within easy travel distance of tonnes of open space, pick your own farms and farm shops. One of my favourite past times is foraging. I loved going to my Nan's and popping to the local pick your own farms, for strawberries, blackberries and plums. My Nan would sit us down with a big bucket so we could wash the fruit ready for a mass cook-a-thon. Hot fruit pie (or crumble) and custard without fail, every Sunday after a big massive roast! 

Another of my Nan's favourite things to cook was jam. We are big jam eaters. There is nothing quite like the taste of freshly cooked, homemade jam and the smell sends me straight back to half term holidays at my Nan's house. As strawberry picking season is coming to an end and we are now looking at picking blackberries for our future crumbles, i thought it would be great to share some of the really nice recipes i have found on the net, in case anyone fancied trying to make some themselves :)

Getting started: 

All jams are made the same, the only difference lies in the fruit and the way it is prepared.
  • Granulated sugar can be used instead of Jam sugar. The only difference is jam sugar contains Pectin. Pectin helps the jam set and is useful when making jam using soft fruits such as strawberries. If you prefer a more runny jam, you could skip the pectin. Pectin is commonly in most fruit rinds/skins and pips. You could easily add apple or lemon to strawberries and skip the additional pectin for example. 
  • Some fruits such as peaches i find do not work well as a jam. The flavour is easily lost. It does depend on personal tastes but if it is too weak, try making a chutney or a jelly instead. 
  • Start with small quantities to work out what size batch is good for you. There is no point making it to throw away a few weeks down the line. It also helps cook the fruit quicker. Around 5-6 cups of fruit for me personally is a good easy amount to work with. 
  • Fresh, frozen or tinned (no syrup) fruit can be used. Fruit that is looking like it needs using right away can also be used. Ripened fruit is more acidic so the flavour will be much stronger. 
Pectin and Acid Content of Common Fruits Used to Make Jams and Jellies

Group I:    If not overripe, it usually has enough natural pectin and acid for gel formation with only added sugar.
Group II:    Low in natural acid or pectin, and may need addition of either acid or pectin.
Group III:    Always needs added acid, pectin or both.

Group IGroup IIGroup III
Apples, sour
Blackberries, sour
Grapes (eastern)
Plums (not Italian)
Citrus skins (oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons, limes, etc. - the pectin is high in the skin but low in the fruit)
Apples, ripe
Blackberries, ripe
Cherries, sour
Cherries, sweet
Grapes (western)
Grape Juice, bottled
Plums (Italian)Oranges

Things needed: 
  • Jars - I reuse small food jars - smart price pickle jars for example. Jars can be purchased though if wanted. Hobbycraft sell a range of sizes as well as amazon, It is worth googling for a cheaper price. 
  • Labels (optional) I print pretty labels off or i make labels from old Christmas cards. You can buy sticky labels to write on or you can use plain paper and stick it on with sellotape or a dab of glue. Its personal preference. 
  • You need a large pan to cook and cool the jam. Avoid aluminium as the acid in the fruit may react with the pan and make the jam taste tinny.
  • Large spoons/ladles. 
Other items you can use are, jar grabbers or a jam thermometer. Personally i have never used them as they are quite pricey but they are optional just to make the process easier. 

The basic ingredients:
  • Fruit 
  • Sugar
  • Lemon Juice 
  • Pectin - optional. Not needed if using jam sugar but needed if making no added sugar jam. You can buy it quite cheaply in liquid form. I have never personally used it as i make such small amounts. 


There is several ways to make jam and does depend on the fruit you are using. Whatever fruit you are using though, the process is easy and from start to finish, takes around 15 -20 mins.

I found this really handy chart over at The Organic Prepper while browsing for new recipes which i think may be useful. There is also a super easy jam making recipe there too.

Jam Making Chart

Peel, slice in half to pit
5 minutes
optional step: mill to remove seeds
10 minutes
optional step: puree
7 minutes
Pit with a cherry pitter, chop before cooking
10 minutes
Mill to remove seeds
10 minutes
Check for stems
10 minutes
Peel, slice in half to remove pits
10 minutes
Slice in half to remove pits
5 minutes
Crush with a potato masher
10 minutes
Remove cores, mash with a potato masher
10 minutes
If you are using more than one fruit in your jam, follow the instructions for the fruit that takes the longest to process.  For example, if you are making a blackberry and plum jam, process for 10 minutes instead of 5 minutes.
Once made just test to see if it has set and store in jars. Super easy, cheap and makes fantastic gifts :D 

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