Tag Archives: making jam

Jam Making Website

making jam

Wares of Knutsford began life selling preserve making equipment. We’ve come a long way since then and are very proud of our range, which includes both traditional and modern kitchen wares such as baking equipment, enamel ware and interesting household goods. However we still consider ourselves to be primarily a jam making website, and June marks the beginning of the preserving season!

Making jam at home

Jam making is one of those traditional hobbies which is undergoing a resurgence in popularity, with celebrity fans including supermodel Kate Moss and the Duchess of Cambridge publicly stating their love for making their own preserves. It’s an enjoyable, rewarding and therapeutic pastime, and the result is far more delicious than any preserve you can find in the shops.

You may only want to make a few jars to enjoy in private, but home made jam makes a fantastic gift and as it’s one of those things which is easier to make in bulk, it makes sense to spread the love! If your jam is really good and you demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit, you may even find you can make a career out of a hobby.

Get started making jam

It’s not difficult to get started, even if you don’t have any experience. You can find all the equipment you need on a jam making website like Wares of Knutsford, including preserving pans, thermometers, funnels, straining kits, jars and labels. You will also find a helpful selection of recipe books.

However once you have mastered the basics of making jam, the fun is all in experimentation and coming up with your own delicious preserves. Jamming is an economical way of using up a glut of seasonal fruit and allows you to enjoy a fruity flavour all year round, but in fact there are plenty of free ingredients you can use – blackberries, elderberries, crab apples, cherries, damsons, sloes, rosehips and hawthorns for example can all be found growing wild in the UK, so take advantage of nature’s bounty to come up with some creative jam flavours! Just make sure you know what you are picking, that you are not trespassing and that you wash the fruit well before use.

The internet is your friend here, as you will find all sorts of useful advice, recipes and instructions online, including here on the Wares of Knutsford website. Check out our blog, Facebook page and recipe selection, which are regularly updated with preserving themed information.

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Demystifying Jam Making

jam making

My Christmas jam making exploits…

I was making some glorious Christmas jam the other day from a recipe given to me by my great friend Gloria. We met through my own blog as she has a passion for pickle and jam making. In fact she makes jams and chutneys and sells them to raise money for AIDS orphans in South Africa. She’s South African herself you see, now living in Oz, long story, but still supports the local community back home. Now the recipe she gave me was one the old Dutch settlers used to make for a Christmas treat. It’s absolutely delicious; just like taking a mouthful of Christmas if you know what I mean. What’s more with a bit of Christmassy food colouring and Val’s lovely gourmet food jars, it would make a terrific present for that awkward to buy for aunt. I thoroughly recommend you make some, just click here for the recipe.

However, I digress, the point is on first boiling the jam wouldn’t set, so I fiddled with a few things and soon it was behaving perfectly. But it did make me think how many people would have thrown their hands up in horror at that point and given up or indeed how many people don’t even embark on jam making because they think it’s too difficult. So I thought what a nice idea it would be to put the record straight. Jam making is in fact very simple. The first step to having confidence in jam making is to realise that it’s not some black art, but a reproducible scientific process. Don’t let the word scientific put you off either, all I mean is if certain things are there in the right order and quantity it will work every time.

If we start by knowing what jam is, then we start to demystify the process. Jam is a water based gel, made from pectin that binds together in a latticework, literally holding the water or fruit juice in place to make it “solid,” in the same way as gelatine holds the fruit jelly together in your trifle. To make this happen we need to have sugar present which acts like blotting paper soaking up lots of the available water, forcing the pectin to come together and make the lattice. Most importantly, this process will only occur in an acidic mixture.

jam making

D-Galacturonic Acid the building blocks for jam making

Wait a minute I here you shout, you’re just like the rest of them. You bandy about this word pectin and nobody ever explains what it is or what it does. Let’s remedy that then, right now. Pectin is a substance that is found in the skins and to a lesser extent the flesh of all fruits and vegetables. It is simply a long chain of sugar molecules, a bit like a bead necklace. This bead necklace however, has little hooks on some of its beads. When lots of these necklaces come together, it’s inevitable that some of the hooks on one necklace will get caught up with hooks on another to form a big tangled mess. Well that tangled mess is your lattice that forms the gel.

So, now we know that all we need to make jam is sugar and pectin in an acidic mixture; the question is, why does it seem to go wrong so often? Well the secret is that although those are the only things you need to make jam, they have to be present in the right quantities – and that really is the only secret!

So for nearly every jam we can say with complete confidence that; if you have 1.2kg of sugar along with a generous teaspoon full of citric acid for every 1kg of fruit pulp/juice your jam will set. In fact if you have your ingredients in these proportions there will be no need to boil the jam for any longer than 30 seconds to a minute, meaning you keep all the great flavour of the fruit. You can always tell if you have the right ratio of ingredients as you will get a boil that looks like the picture. I like to describe it as being like volcanic lava.

jam making

Rolling boil when jam making

And that really is it! Okay, I can hear all the health conscious jam making experts shouting at the screen and yes I’m fully aware that jam can be made with far less sugar using specially adapted pectin and of course we will go into that process some other time for those that want to watch their, and more importantly, their kids sugar intake. But for now if you follow the simple rules we’ve outlined here you won’t go far wrong when making, shall I say, “traditional” jam. Next time we’ll take a good look at the equipment we need to make our jam making not just easy for us but also hygienic. Until then I hope this has gone some way to demystifying your jam making successes and more importantly failures.

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