Sunday, 7 July 2013

How Easy Is Making Jam?

Making your own jam is one of the easiest things to do in preserving summer's bounty!  Many years ago, I made a batch of strawberry jam that turned out great and a batch of raspberry jam that was so hard you couldn't chisel it out of the jar.  Instead of focusing on the jam that was great, I agonised over the failure and didn't even try to make it again for years.  Silly me!

With endless days of rain trapping me in the house, I pulled out a bag of raspberries I'd frozen last summer, thawed them and mashed them. ~

Simple so far, right?  Grab of bag of sugar and pectin mix and stir it in. ~

Once the mixture comes to a bowl, this is only going to take about 10 mins. to make, so get your jars sterilising now.  If you are new to preserving, there are a few things you need to know about sterilising jars.  It's nice if you have a pot like this but for years I just used a big pot and a wire rack. ~

If your water is very hard (mine is so hard you could give yourself a concussion diving into it!), add a tablespoon of vinegar to the water to stop the minerals from making the jars cloudy.  Bring the water to a full boil and invert the jars on the wire rack over the boiling water.  Steam sterilises better than immersion in the water.  It takes a full five minutes to sterilise the jars.  Always use new caps.  They should only have a quick dunk in the boiling water so the rubber doesn't deteriorate.  Obviously, you will need tongs to dunk the caps.  The rings can be reused for years as they don't touch the food.

Back to the jam making.  Put an empty saucer in the freezer to chill. Bring your sugar/pectin/berry mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Keep stirring for another 4 or 5 minutes.  I followed the instructions on the Redpath bag.  My mom always used a wooden spoon to stir.  She made great jam, so I'm doing what she did. ~

Near the end of the boiling/stirring time, take the saucer out of the freezer and drop a spoonful of jam on it.  This is to test that the jam has set. ~

Can you see that it isn't flowing into the centre?  That means it is set.  If it is still flowing, let the jam boil for another minute and try again.

Once it's set, take the pot off the heat and keep stirring for another 5 mins.  Use a stainless steel spoon for this part.  Stir and skim off any foam that is forming on the top of the jam.  Keep stirring and skimming for the full 5 mins.  I'd show you a pic of skimming but my jam had virtually no foam to skim off.  You are skimming the foam so you have a nice, clear jam.

Ladle the hot jam into the sterilized jars and wipe the rim with a clean cloth to remove any jam that spilled on it, to give you a good seal on the lid.  Some people use paper towel for that but I figure I have no idea what kind of factory the paper towel was made in, so why would I think it is cleaner than a dishcloth I washed.  Seriously, why do we assume that stuff is clean?  My sister thinks I'm weird about that. Screw the rings on finger tight and don't re tighten them.  You will hear a popping sound when the jar has sealed. ~

The best part about making your own jam is the taste!   It's to die for!

Second best part is getting to use the adorable jam jars you've collected.

This crystal and silver jam jar has the niftiest hook to attach the lid to the jar when in use. ~

Love this cut crystal sweetie!   How Downton Abbey is this? ~

My favourite is this Royal Winton chintz pattern.  It's crazed and the silverplate is wearing off the lid, but it says wholesome, cottage goodness to me! ~

So, head out to the garden and pick those berries or grab a bag of frozen ones at the grocery and and get your jam making chef's cap on.  It's easier than you think!

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