How to make jam is often a question I am asked. Making jam at home does not need to be a science project and its straight forward and simple enough to do when you know how. Below you will find answers to commons questions that many people have when it comes to making jam. At the end of the page I have included an apricot jam recipe.
What Fruit Makes The Best Jam?
The best type of fruit for making jam is fruit that is slightly under ripe. Under ripe fruit has more pectin and acidity in comparison to ripe fruit which has very little or none at all.
Can I Use Frozen Berries To Make Jam?
If you can’t get fresh berries, you can use frozen. The pectin level in frozen fruit is usually lower than fresh fruit so you will need to add pectin to help the jam set.
How Much Pectin In Jam?
Pectin is a natural setting agent found in the skin, peel, seeds and stones of most fruits to varying degrees:
- High Pectin Fruits: tart under ripe apples, green apples, unripe blackberries, lemons, limes, and grapes.
- Moderate Pectin Fruits: ripe apples, ripe blackberries, sour cherries, grapefruit, and oranges.
- Low Pectin Fruits: apricots, blueberries, ripe cherries, peaches, pears, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries and plums.
For high pectin fruits, there is no need to add extra pectin to make the jam set. For fruits that are over ripe, or moderate to low in pectin, you can add a commercial pectin. This will also help reduce the cooking time needed to set the jam.
When using the commercial pectin, follow the instructions provided on the packet as the quantities will vary for each recipe. Also adding acidity from freshly squeezed lemon or limes will help make the jam firm.
How to Make Jam Without Pectin?
High pectin fruits are the easiest way to make jam without pectin. However, you can still make jam using moderate to low pectin fruits by adding one to two tart green apples (for the pectin) and a little lemon juice (for the acidity) to the fruit when cooking.
Which Sugar to Use For Jam?
White granulated sugar is the best sugar for jam making as it helps make it gel and gives the jam clear colour.
How Much Sugar In Jam?
- For sweet fruits it’s generally a 2:1 ratio e.g. 2 kilos fruit to 1 kilo sugar.
- Fruits that can be bitter, like grapefruit, would have a 3:2 ratio e.g. 3 kilos of fruit to 2 kilos sugar.
- Then you may find recipes that require equal weights of fruit and sugar.
How Do You Know When Jam is Set?
Once all the sugar has dissolved and the jam is rapidly boiling, it will take about 10 minutes to turn into jam. As soon as you think it is ready, use one of the following testing methods to see if it is ready to bottle.
- Use a sugar thermometer to check that the jam has come to the correct temperature. The correct temperature for jam to set is 105°C (220°F). When using a sugar thermometer, don’t let it touch the sides or the bottom of the pot.
- Do the cold-saucer test (this is the one I use). Place a small plate in the freezer until it becomes quite cold, then remove the jam from the heat (this will ensure that it doesn’t overcook) and place a small amount of jam on the chilled plate. As soon as the jam has chilled on the plate, push your finger through the jam, if it shows wrinkles on the surface, the jam is ready, if not continue to cook the jam a little longer.
How Do You Bottle Jam?
Once your jam has set you need to bottle it for storage. This should be done by pouring hot jam into clean, dry, and sterilized jars.
To prepare your jars and lids, they should be washed with hot soapy water and rinsed thoroughly. To ensure that the jars are completely dry and sterilized place them in a preheated 140°C (280°F) oven for about 5 minutes, this will dry the jars and warm them which will also ensure that they wont crack when filled with very hot jam.
Once the jars are filled with the hot jam, screw on the lids and allow the jam to cool before labelling and storing. As the hot jam cools inside the sealed jars a vacuum is created making the jars air tight, which is what is needed for long term storage.
How Long Does Homemade Jam Last?
If you have cooked and bottled the jam correctly, you can expect it to last for up to two years, if stored in a cool, dark, and dry place.
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Homemade Apricot Jam
- 8 kg apricots
- 8 kg sugar
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- Wash apricots, cut in half and remove the stones.
- Place apricot halves into a large heavy bottom saucepan or preserving pan.
- Crack open about 10 apricot stones with a hammer and take out the kernels, then blanch in a small pot of boiling water for one minute, drain, and place in the saucepan with the apricots.
- Add the lemon juice and half a cup of water bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Return the pot back to the heat and boil rapidly for 15 minutes or until the setting point is reached.
- Remove the kernels and scum from the jam with a slotted spoon, then while hot, place into warm clean sterilised jars.
Pocket Food Facts
Did You Know?
Sugar acts as a preservative in jams and jellies by reducing the water content. In absence of water bacteria can’t grow and multiply and spoil the jam. Read more on sugar in food preserving here.