Jam is a lovely handmade gift to give as a Thank You, it is also great to make a big batch when fruits are cheap as it will last ages in the cupboard if bottled correctly. When I say ages, I mean years! I would say that it should be right for 12 months for sure but I recently found some I the back of the cupboard from !2011! and it was still perfectly fine with no signs of mould or discoloration. Having said that I would always store it in the fridge once opened. For this tutorial I have made Blackberry Jam but the method is pretty much at the same for any Jam. I always check a recipe that has similar fruit to what I am using as some require lemon juice or water to be added. Most recipes call for equal parts sugar and fruit. I only ever use 75% sugar to fruit (because this is what my Mum does), this is sweet enough for sure. So for 1kg of fruit I use 750g sugar.
So here goes 🙂
Before you do anything else, put a small plate in the freezer.
First you need to prepare your jars. You can use any glass jars with metal lids that seal well (avoid lids that have any rust or dents). Wash your jars in hot soapy water, rinse and place on a tray. Also wash, rinse and place on the tray a jug that you will use to pour the jam. Place the tray in the oven at 100*c to sterilize everything.
Measure your ingredients. You can measure the fruit straight in to pan but the sugar needs to be separate.
Put the fruit in the pan on medium-high heat until it is simmering and cook the fruit down until it is all softened. I use a spoon to squash the fruit a little so that the jam doesn’t have big lumps of fruit, that’s personal choice 🙂 Remove from the heat and add the sugar. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, it will feel gritty until it is dissolved fully.
Once all the sugar has dissolved return to the heat and bring to the boil. You want a slow boil, not too rapid. Stir regularly for as long as your recipe states. This 500g batch of Blackberry needed 9 minutes. 1kg of mixed berry usually takes around 15 minutes but all fruits are different so find a recipe to use as a guide.
After the suggested cooking time you need to test the Jam to see if it has set. This is why you put a plate in the freezer earlier 🙂 Grab the plate, put a small blob of jam on it and put it back in the freezer. After a couple of minutes take out the plate and use your finger to push the jam gently from one side of the blob towards the centre. Watch the jam just in front of your finger, you want to see the jam wrinkle instead of just push away smoothly. If you can see a wrinkle then your jam has set, if not put another blob of jam on the other side of the plate and repeat. Sometimes it just does not seem to wrinkle at all, I usually give it a few more goes and then give up and bottle anyway, the jam always does seem to set once cooled, just one of those mystery things I guess…
When your jam has reached its set point you are ready to bottle it. You need to work quickly now, you want to pour hot jam into hot jars and then seal with hot lids. Either pour your jam into the jug you have sterilized or dip the jug into the pot if you are making a bigger quantity, remember everything is very hot, wear oven mitts!! If you dip the jug in hold a plate under it to catch the drips. Fill the jars to about 1cm from the top and tighten lids quickly. When all jars are filled check all lids are on tightly and leave to cool. As they cool the lids will vacume on, you might hear them pop down and you will notice they concave. That’s it, you have made Jam 🙂
Any leftover jam can be stored in an unsterilized jar or container in the fridge, it wont last long because you will eat it!!
So there you go, next time you come across some cheap berries give it a go, there is nothing better than home made jam.