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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Recipes, Tips and Techniques on Jam-making

Besides fruit and sugar, there are two essential ingredients that make jam- and preserve-making successful, and they work together to produce a set preserve. The first is pectin, a gel-like substance found in varying degrees in most fruit, usually in the skin, pips and membranes. Combined with fruit acid and sugar, pectin makes a good setting agent.
Some fruit contains little pectin, however, so it must be added during cooking. You can usually buy it in granular form in 13g sachets. The same applies to fruit acid: extra can be added by using lemon juice.

Equipment
You don’t need lots of new equipment; just have the following to hand:
• A large, sturdy-based pan. A maslin pan suitable for all preserve-making costs around £35.
• A long-handled spoon (I use a wooden one)
• A ladle
• Some sterilised jars with good-fitting lids; screw-tops or Kilner-type jars are ideal. It’s best to have an extra jar around just in case you need it, as quantities can never be precise.
• Sticky labels – to remind you what is in the jar and when it was made
• A jam funnel: the only thing I advise buying specially. It makes filling the jars much easier.
• A jam-making thermometer: this indicates when jam has reached setting point, so it can be useful, but you’ll still need to test for setting to be sure.

Choosing the produce
When making any preserves, choose the freshest, ripest, most perfect fruit and vegetables you can. This will guarantee that your preserve will remain fresh and uncontaminated. Successful jam may be made with frozen fruit so long as it is fully defrosted before using. You can make jam with any kind of sugar, but white granulated sugar does the job and is probably the most economical.

Working with sugar
Heat the sugar in a roasting pan in the oven for 10 minutes on a very low temperature. This helps the sugar dissolve more quickly in the fruit. To check whether sugar has dissolved, simply look at the mixture on the back of the spoon; if it looks grainy, it hasn’t.

Testing for setting point
Place a saucer in the fridge to test the jam on after boiling. Put a very small amount of jam on your cold plate, allow it to cool, then push it gently with your finger. It should wrinkle and stay in place if setting point is reached. Don’t worry if it moves a little; so long as it wrinkles and doesn’t run round your finger, it is ready to pot.


Strawberry Jam

Ingredients:
• 1kg strawberries, washed and hulled
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 1 x 13g sachet pectin
• 1kg white
• granulated sugar

Procedures:
1. Put the strawberries in a large pan on a medium heat. Use a masher to squash down some of the fruit, but leave some whole to add texture to the finished jam. Add the lemon juice.
2. Bring the fruit to a fast simmer and cook for 2–3 minutes, or until some of the strawberries are soft. Lower the heat slightly.
3. Sprinkle in the pectin and sugar and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook at boiling point for 4 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat and test for setting with the cold saucer. If it isn’t ready, boil for 30 seconds more and repeat the test. As soon as setting point is reached, remove from the heat, stir and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
5. Stir to distribute the fruit before ladling it into pots. Seal the pots immediately and label when cool.
Storage
This will keep for up to 1 year unopened.


Raspberry Jam

Ingredients:
• 1kg raspberries, washed and hulled
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 1kg granulated sugar

Procedures:
1. Put the fruit in a large pan and simmer for 8–10 minutes, or until the juice runs freely and the fruit has softened.
2. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
3. Place the pan back on a medium heat, add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook at boiling for 4–5 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat and test for setting. When setting point is reached, leave to cool for 5 minutes.
5. Stir to distribute the fruit, then ladle into prepared jars and seal immediately. Label when cool.
Storage
This will keep for up to 1 year unopened.


Blackcurrant Jam

Ingredients:
• 1kg blackcurrants, washed, topped and tailed
• 500ml water
• 1.5kg sugar

Procedures:
1. Put the fruit and water in the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25–30 minutes, or until the fruit is tender. Stir occasionally.
2. Remove from heat, stir in the sugar and keep stirring until it has all dissolved.
3. Bring to the boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.
4. Test for setting point. When it has been reached, allow the jam to cool for 5 minutes, then stir and ladle it into prepared jars. Label when cool.
Storage
This will keep for up to 1 year unopened.


Blackberry and Apple Jam

Ingredients:
• About 500g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
• 130ml water
• 1kg blackberries, washed and hulled
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 1.5kg sugar

Procedures:
1. Simmer the apples with the water for 10 minutes, or until they begin to soften.
2. Add the blackberries and lemon juice and simmer until the apples are completely soft and the blackberries are tender.
3. Add the sugar and stir on a low heat until it is completely dissolved.
4. Boil rapidly for 8–10 minutes, then test for setting point.
5. Cool for 5 minutes, stir and ladle it into prepared jars. Label when cool.
Storage
This will keep for up to 1 year unopened.


Plum Jam

Using the freshest English plums ensures the fruit has the highest quantity of pectin, so you
don’t have to add any more.

Ingredients:
• 1.5kg Victoria or other English plums, stoned and halved
• 280ml water
• 1.5kg sugar

Procedures:
1. If you don’t want large pieces of fruit in the jam, cut the plums into chunks.
2. Place the fruit in a pan with the water and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. This will take about 15–20 minutes.
3. Add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved completely.
4. Bring to the boil and cook at boiling for 6–8 minutes.
5. Test for setting point. Once reached, leave for 5 minutes to cool, stir, then ladle the jam into prepared jars. Label when cool.
Storage
This will keep for up to 1 year unopened.


Gooseberry Jam

Ingredients:
• 1.5kg gooseberries, topped and tailed
• 430ml water
• 2kg sugar

Procedures:
1. In a large saucepan, simmer the gooseberries with the water for about 20 minutes, until the berries start popping their skins.
2. Add the sugar and stir on a low heat until it has completely dissolved.
3. Turn up the heat and boil for 10 minutes, then test for setting point.
4. Once setting point has been reached, allow the jam to cool for 5 minutes, stir, then ladle it into prepared jars. Label when cool.
Storage
This will keep for up to 1 year unopened.


Summer Fruit Jam

This is made with 1kg of frozen summer fruits, but it can also be made with the same quantity of any mixed frozen fruit, or simply raspberries or strawberries. Pectin needs to be added because fruit starts to lose its natural pectin content once frozen.

Ingredients:
• 2 x 500g packs of frozen summer fruits, defrosted
• 1kg sugar
• 1 x 13g sachet pectin

Procedures:
1. Place the fruit in the saucepan over a low heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
2. Add the sugar and pectin and stir until it has completely dissolved.
3. Bring to the boil and cook at boiling for 4 minutes, then test for setting.
4. Once setting point has been reached, allow the jam to cool for 5 minutes before stirring and ladling it into prepared jars. Label when cool.
Storage
This will keep for up to 1 year unopened.


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