How To Make & Store Jam

Making jam is so easy – you really don’t need many, if any, culinary skills. And the end product tastes so much better than a shop bought alternative.

Not too much equipment is required. A large, robust preserving pan; stirring spoon; the appropriate number of jars, washed and placed in the oven for 5mins to sterilize; waxed paper discs – to be placed wax side down over the jam to provide a seal. That’s about it, a thermometer is an optional extra, I never use one.

Although I’ve quoted equal amounts of sugar and fruit, the exact amount of sugar that’s used depends on your taste. I don’t possess a sweet tooth, so generally use a ratio of 3 / 2 fruit over sugar.

With less sugar you’ll get to taste more fruit but remember it must be dissolved completely, so warm in the oven before adding to the pan.

Strawberry Jam

Prepare the dry strawberries by removing their green caps and then cover 3lbs of fruit with granulated sugar and leave overnight. The following morning, melt the sugar over a low heat, stirring sparingly and adding the juice of one lemon.

Increase the heat and boil for 8 mins. Then you have to test whether the jam will set. This is done by putting a little jam on a cold plate. Let it cool and then push with a finger to see whether a crinkly skin forms.

If not, continue boiling and testing every few minutes until a skin forms. When this happens, take off the heat. Allow the jam to cool before pouring it into the sterilized jars. Add the waxed paper and make sure the jar is airtight. Store in a cool, dark place.

Raspberry Jam

Place 3lbs of fruit in the preserving pan, crush them slightly to release some juices and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add 3lbs of sugar and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and boil, then follow the same instructions as strawberry jam.

Blackcurrant Jam

As with other hard skinned fruits, simmer 3lbs of fruit in 1½ pints of water until tender and the water has almost evaporated. Add sugar and bring to the boil after the sugar has dissolved. Then follow the same instructions as the other jams.

Storing Advice

Bottling Fruit

For fruit use syrup made up from 8oz of sugar dissolved in 1 pt of hot water. Trim off any stems and leaves, apples and pears should be peeled and sliced, and then completely fill the jar before pouring the syrup in. Now place the jars so they are not touching on a trivet in a large pan. Fill the pan with warm water (about 40C) covering the jars completely, bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 mins.

Jams and Chutneys

Making pickles, jams and chutneys is another great way of preserving fruit and vegetables, in fact pickling dates back 4000 years.

There's too many methods and recipes to go into here but the science is roughly the same. After heating fruit for jams, adding sugar helps prevent bacteria growth, while pickles and chutneys use a combination of vinegar, salt, sugar and spices.

For both bottling and making preserves or chutneys make sure that everything you use is sterilized either by heat or specialist solutions.