Jam Making for Beginners

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Far be it from us to give away trade secrets, but making your own jam is not difficult…

Jam making for beginners might seem daunting, but once in possession of a few very basic pieces of equipment, all you need is a pile of fruit and sugar and bingo! Delicious preserves that will give you that summer taste all through winter.

Jam making for beginners: fruits and sugars

While jam is often considered the best way to use a glut of fruit that may be past its best, you’ll get the tastiest results from fruit that’s in the best condition. Go for slightly under ripe fruits as they contain the highest amount of pectin, which is needed to make the jam set. You can buy special jam sugar with pectin added but perfectly good results can be achieved with standard sugar – granulated gives a better result than caster. If you are struggling to reach a setting point, add a squeeze of lemon juice to your pan.

Setting point

Identifying the setting point is the bit that often puts beginners off but it’s really quite simple. Before you start to prepare your jam, place a small saucer in the freezer. To test your jam, drop a teaspoonful of your mixture onto the frozen saucer and leave to cool for a minute or two. Push your finger gently into the blob of mixture – if a layer of skin has formed which wrinkles when you press it, the jam is ready. If not, keep cooking and testing regularly.

Jam making for beginners with berries

Summer fruits, particularly of the berry variety, are probably the best option for jam making for beginners. Use this same basic recipe with strawberries or blackberries too, and you can make any quantity working on the principle of equal amounts of fruit to sugar.

  • Raspberry jam ingredients:
  • 450g fresh raspberries
  • 450g granulated sugar

Raspberry jam method:

Add the fruit and sugar to a preserving pan or large, heavy based saucepan and cook very gently on a low heat, stirring regularly, until the sugar has dissolved completely. Then bring the mixture to a fast boil for about four minutes or until the jam reaches setting point – it will start to thicken and bubble more slowly.

Once it has reached setting point, ladle the jam mixture into sterilised jars and seal while still hot. As the jam cools it will thicken and a seal will form. Store in a cool, dark place for up to six months and refrigerate once opened.

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