It will soon be time to think about jam making with summer fruit. My tips are from my 'Food for Keeps' course and will help you make perfect jam every time. Try making this delicious Fresh Apricot Jam.
- Never make more than 10lb (10 standard jars) at any time. The less time spent in cooking the jam, the better the final colour and flavour.
- Choose firmly ripe, fresh fruit, picked dry. Wet fruit will affect the set and flavour of the jam.
- Prepare the fruit removing any stalks and bruised flesh, only wash if necessary.
- Use a large, heavy based saucepan. The pan should never be more than half full.
- Add water only of the recipe says so.
- Bring fruit to the boil, then simmer gently to break down any skin and to extract the pectin.
- Pectin is a substance in fruit that reacts with acid when heated, creating the setting agent. Fruits vary in their pectin and acid content.
- Jam sugar has added pectin and is ideal for fruits that are low in pectin helping jam to set.
- Do not cover the pan as water evaporation is essential.
- Underboiling causes jam to be too runny and overboiling makes it sticky.
- Test the set by dropping a spoonful of jam onto a refrigerated saucer and seeing if the top crinkles when you run your finger or a spoon across it.
- Warming the sugar in a low oven (110C) will shorten the cooking time. Preserving sugar consists of large crystals of sugar which dissolve evenly producing less froth when boiling.
- Remove any scum with a slotted spoon once the jam is ready to pot. A nut sized piece of butter at the end of the cooking will help reduce the scum.
- Cool the jam for 5 to 10 mins before potting, then stir again to help evenly distribute the fruit and stop it from rising to the top of the jars.
- Always warm jars in a low oven to sterilise and prevent cracking from the hot jam.
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- choose firm, ripe fruit
- preserving sugar has bigger crystals which dissolve more evenly
- test for set by seeing if a skin forms when dropping some jam onto a chilled saucer
- always warm the jars in the oven
Yesterday I picked the last of the mulberry crop from the suffolkfoodie ancestral home.. The old mulberry tree blew over in the great storm of 1987 but being from a farming family, daddy suffolkfoodie pulled the tree upright with his tractor and tied it back into position. It survived! I have picked over 20kgs of fruit and made some into jam. Here is the recipe. I used jam sugar with added pectin as mulberries are low in pectin. I added plenty of red, unripe fruits to improve the setting, as the red fruit have higher pectin levels.
1kg Mulberries and 1kg of Jam Sugar
Rinse the mulberries carefully and quickly so as not to lose too much juice. Put into a large saucepan and simmer until soft. Stir in the sugar ensuring that it all dissolves. Boil hard until setting point is reached. (Setting point can be tested by dropping some cooked jam onto a saucer which has been chilled in the freezer, a skin will form on top of the jam when setting point is achieved)
Warm some clean jars in the oven, bottle and store.
Sarah is making delicious chutney, jams, pickles and relishes at home - most of it from produce she has grown herself. Here is her Hot Chili Jelly recipe - adapted from the River Cottage Preserves book.
750g to 1kg of bell peppers and 100g hot chillies (any colour will do, I like to mix them up)
Large chunk of fresh root ginger - peeled
300ml cider vinegar (you may need an extra 50ml if using more peppers) or other vinegar works if it's all you have.
1 kg preserving sugar (with pectin added)
Juice of 2 limes
A few mint leaves
1 tsp salt
Please wear gloves for the chili's if necessary - then slice all peppers and chillies in half length ways and remove seeds. Finely chop the chillies, peppers, root ginger and mint (in a food processor) then place into a large pan.
Add the vinegar and slowly bring to simmering point. Add sugar, lime juice and salt, stir until the sugar has dissolved and it begins to boil.
Boil for 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Cool for 5 minutes and pot into sterilised jars. Use within 12 months.