...this has been the first year I have made jam, and I have got a little addicted (to both the jam and the making of it!).
I have so far made 'strawberry', 'raspberry' and 'strawberry and blackberry' and all have worked perfectly, tasted fantastic and set first time every time.
Here is the very basic recipe for I use:
2lb granulated sugar
juice of 1 lemon
heavy bottomed pan
greaseproof paper cut to fit on top of your jam in the jars
I just use as much fruit as I have and add the same weight in sugar. 2lbs of fruit produces about 5 jars of jam (depending on the size of jar of course).
All your equipment must be super super clean and your jars, funnel and ladle must be sterilised to avoid any bacteria making it's way in. I still have Milo's baby bottle steriliser which I use for my jars and then pour boiling water over the funnel and ladle. The jars need to be warm when you put the jam in, so using a steam steriliser or dishwasher (I believe some have a steriliser setting on them) is ideal.
Before you start, pop a couple of plates in the fridge to test the set later on.
So on to the jam making!
Wash all your fruit well and make sure there are no bad bits in there, it's also good to add a few not quite so ripe berries, as these contain more pectin which will help the jam to set. Put your fruit and lemon juice (the lemon is also high in pectin and will be crucial to helping the jam to set, especially with fruit like strawberries which is low in pectin itself, you will hardly taste the lemon in the finished product at all) into a heavy bottomed pan. Heat gently, squashing the fruit as you go.
Once they are nicely squashed (to your personal preference, if you like big bits of strawberries in your jam for example leave a few not so squashed, if you want it super smooth then keep at it until they are!) add your sugar. Keep on a low heat until all the sugar has dissolved, test this by coating the back of a spoon with the jam and look out for any sugar crystals, once you can no longer see any crystals on the back of the spoon it's time to heat it up!
Bring your jam to a boil and let it boil away for about 5 mins (this bit can be a bit scary, especially if like me you don't have a very big pan!).
I don't use a thermometer, I much prefer using the cold plate method my Mum taught me. So after the five minutes are up remove one of the plates from the fridge and drop a little jam on to it, leave it for a minute and then check to see if it has an intention of setting. If when you run your finger through the jam on the plate a skin has formed it's ready, if not keep boiling a little longer and continue to test until you see evidence of setting.
When your jam is ready, leave it to cool for about 5 -10minutes, this is when I put jars on to sterilise. This prevents the large bits from sinking to the bottom of the jars.
Whilst your jars and jam are still warm use a funnel to fill your jars right up to the top, place pieces of greaseproof paper on top of the jam pop the lids on and you're done!
Wait until your jars are cool to put the labels on otherwise they have a tendency to fall off!
I would just like to add that so many recipes I have read on making jam tell you to skim the scum off the top as you go, however I haven't really had any problem with scum forming on top of mine so haven't done this, but I read a delia recipe that says instead of skimming it of the top to leave it and add a tiny amount to butter at the very end to disperse it and save wasting any jam.
My niece was visiting last week and helped me with all aspects of the jam making, from the berry picking right through to the label and lid covers, and as you can tell it really was 'yum, yum, yummy'!
I would like to write about the hapa zome lid covers we made too, but I have a bored toddler begging for attention, maybe tomorrow.