If you’ve always had a preference for making your own food from scratch, try your hand at making jam. Great as gifts, or perhaps even as a business idea, making your own jam is actually quite doable, and makes a fun project for you and your kids. Ahead, you’ll find tips and an easy recipe to help you perfect the art of making berry jam.
Tips To Make Better Jam
THE PAN Choose a pan made from heavy aluminium, enamel or stainless steel. Don’t use copper or unsealed cast iron pans as the natural acids in fruit will damage the pan surfaces, spoiling the flavour of the preserve. As a guide to the size of the saucepan to use, the jam mixture should not be more than 5 cm deep after all the ingredients have been added to the pan, as the mixture will bubble up while cooking.
JARS The jars must be glass and have no chips or cracks, and the lids must be tight-fitting. Three methods of sterilising jars:
● Through the hottest cycle in the dishwasher
● Place jars in a large boiler and cover with cold water. Bring water to the boil over high heat and boil for 20 mins.
● Stand clean jars upright, without touching, on an oven tray. Place on the lowest shelf in the oven. Turn oven to 100 C (80 C fan-forced) and leave jars to heat through for 20 mins.
SUGAR This is the ingredient that, when combined with an acid, preserves the fruit. Coarser sugar will result in a clearer jam. Warming sugar enables it to be dissolved more quickly. Brush the grains that stick to the side of the pan with a pastry brush that has been dipped in cold water.
THE FRUIT Choose perfect, just ripe fruit. Wash and dry the fruit.
PECTIN This is a natural water-soluble substance found in fruits and vegetables in varying levels. When pectin is combined with sugar and acid, it develops thickening properties similar to gelatine. Berries and figs are low in pectin, hence the addition of Jam Setta (pectin). Alternatively, combine with fruits that are high in pectin, such as tart apples or quince.
JELLING POINT The jelling point is probably the trickiest part of jam-making. That is why we have included a sachet of Jam Setta, to ensure good results. Methods used to test the jelling point are:
● Temperature: The jam should jell at room temperature when the mixture reaches 105 C on a candy thermometer.
● Wrinkle test: Place a saucer in the freezer until chilled. Drop a teaspoon of jam onto the saucer and place it back in the freezer to hasten the cooling process. Push the jam with your finger; if the skin wrinkles, the jam is ready. If not, return to the heat and boil again for a few minutes.
- 1.3 kg white sugar
- 1.5 kg fresh mixed berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries)
- 1⁄2 cup (125 ml) lemon juice
- 50 g packet Jam Setta (or pectin), available at Amazon, Bake King and Phoon Huat
Preheat oven to 150 C (130 C fan- forced). Spread the sugar in a large baking dish to a maximum depth of 2.5 cm. Place the sugar in the oven for about 10 mins, stirring it a couple of times, so it warms evenly.
Meanwhile, combine berries and juice in a large saucepan; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium. Then, cook, uncovered, for about 10 mins or until berries have softened and are tender.
Add warm sugar and Jam Setta to the berry mixture. Boil, uncovered, for about 20 mins or until jam jells when tested.
Pour hot jam into hot, sterilised jars; seal immediately. Label and date jars when cold.
Photo: 123RF, Step-by-step images and recipe: Bauersyndication.com.au