Portion/Yield:Makes 3 250g jars of jam
Pickling and preserving the seasons best fruits and vegetables is an important task for me. This ensure I can enjoy good quality products throughout the year and then it’s nice to enjoy homemade products rather than shop bought. The other beautiful thing about this is that you will always have a gift to hand if you are caught short and need a gift last minute. I love giving and receiving something homemade, for me it means so much more.
I admit making jams, preserves, chutneys and pickles takes time and when the fruits and vegetables are in abundance you may not always have the time to action these tasks. My next bit of advise is to freeze the fruits. I recently started making my jam using fruits from the freezer. I freeze the fresh ripe fruits when they are in season then when I have the time they come out and I can cook the jam at my own leisure. It’s a win win situation as I believe my jams using frozen fruits are equally as successful.
I also believe that cooking jams and preserves in smaller quantities will end with the best results. I learned the hard and expensive way by trying to cook a ‘large’ batch of jam at once and sadly the jam never set, I lost the fresh fruit taste of the jam and it burnt, it’s not nice when that happens, smaller quantities makes this task more successful in my opinion. Enjoy and have fun with the seasons abundance.
Ingredients & Method
- 300g strawberries, hulled
- 300g redcurrants, picked and stalks removed
- 600g jam sugar
- juice of one lemon
Wash the hulled strawberries and picked redcurrants, leave to drain in a colander for 10 minutes.
Place the fruits and sugar in an airtight container, cover and refrigerate over night. The fruit would have started to bleed and the sugar to dissolve.
The following day scrape the fruits and sugar in to a heavy base saucepan, place over medium heat. Gently melt the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved turn the heat up and bring to a vigorous boil.
Wash the edges of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in hot water; this will prevent the jam from crystallising. Only stir a couple of times the jam while it is boiling, continuous stirring will encourage crystallisation however do not let your jam catch/ burn. Skim any impurities from the surface as it rises.
Boil the jam for about 10 -12 minutes, temperature 104°C – 107°C; this is the ideal setting point for the jam.
When you reach the correct temperature remove the jam from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
Have your jam jars ready, cleaned and sterilised, as it is important to decant the hot jam as soon as possible.
Cool the jam jars, clean and label them.
Crystallisation of Jam: It’s pretty annoying when this happens. Normally it’s only visual once the jam has cooled down completely. I have three simply preventable reasons why crystallisation could happen.
- One is if the sugar and fruit start to boil before all the “raw” sugar crystals have dissolved.
- Two is once the sugar has dissolved and the jam reached the vigorous boiling stage you did not wash the edges with a pastry brush dipped in hot water. As the “raw” sugar crystals get stuck to the edge of the pan and falls back in to the boiling syrup,the larger un-dissolved crystals accumulate molecules and this encourages the growth of large crystals know as crystallisation.
- Third is that you should not stir boiling jam or sugar syrup for that matter too much. If you continuously stir the boiling syrup it knocks the sugar crystals together and encourages the formation of larger crystals and crystallisation sets in once cooled.
Sterilising the jars: This is one of the most crucial tasks that you should never cut corners . If you not do this properly you might find your jam becomes mouldy and ferments sooner than expected. Preheat the oven to 100°C. Wash the jars in hot soapy water; do not dry them with a tea towel. Place the damp jars and lids on a clean baking tray; try not to touch the jars and lids on the insides. Place them in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes. Let the jars cool slightly before you scoop in the jam.
Other pointers are
- Never pour cold liquid in to hot glass jars, you will end up with broken glass
- Take extra care when sterilising the jars, as if they are overheated they might explode.