This might be the most basic, Earth Mother-type kitchen activity but, apart from the obvious fruit, you will need a number of other items to make a successful batch of jam. We have used strawberries here but the same basic method applies to most fruits – some require more or less sugar or a longer or shorter cooking time. Traditionally pectin was added to the jam as a separate ingredient to help it set, but these days you can buy good preserving sugar to perform this function.
Sterilising Your Jam Jars
To help your jam keep for longer, sterilise your jam jars by putting them through a pressure cooker cycle for 15 minutes.
- 500g jam sugar
- 500g granulated sugar
- Juice of five lemons
- 1 kilo fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
- A preserving pan (any large, heavy-bottomed pan will do if you don’t have one)
- A funnel
- A pestle (a potato masher will work if you don’t have one)
- A wooden spoon
- 5 x 190ml jam jars, sterilised
- 5 x wax preserving discs
Put 225g each of the strawberries and the granulated sugar into your preserving pan and use a pestle to pound the mixture to a soft pulp. Simmer the pulp gently for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. The fruit and sugar should have formed a syrupy consistency in which to cook the rest of the ingredients.
Add the remaining sugars, fruit and lemon juice to the pan and mix well. Turn the heat up to full and boil for 12 minutes, stirring continuously to make sure none of the sugar sticks to the bottom of the pan. The jam should then have reached setting point and have a fairly thick consistency. To test this you can either use a jam thermometer or put a drop of the mixture onto a cold teaspoon or plate – if the jam drop has formed a skin after resting for a minute, it is ready. If the drop remains liquid the jam will need to be cooked for a little longer.
Decanting Into Your Jam Jars
Pour the mixture through the funnel into the glass jars while they are still warm from sterilising. When you have filled your first jar, moisten a wax preserving disc with a little water and place, wet side up, onto the rim of the jar. This will help to preserve your jam for a little longer. Screw the lid on tightly and allow the jars to cool. Decorate your jam jars and store in a cool, dark place.