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8 Tips for Making Jams

Make sure you get the most out of your fruits with these top tips for making jams at home.

| April 2018

  • Typically, a jam contains as much sugar as it contains fruit, making it a perfect 50/50 split.
    Photo by Pixabay/jarmoluk
  • “The Little Book of Tea Tips” by Andrew Langley gives 50 invaluable tips for brewing teas right at home.
    Photo courtesy of Absolute Press

The Little Book of Jam Tips (Absolute Press, 2017) by Andrew Langley covers every aspect of making jams at home, with short snippets of wisdom to guide you through the process. The following excerpt is a list of his top tips for making jams.

1. It is vital to wash and sterilize all jars and bottles before filling them. This wipes out harmful microbes inside. The simplest method is to put them (with their lids off) on a baking tray, put the tray in a cold oven and heat to about 110 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes. More wastefully, you can put them in a dishwasher on its hottest setting.

2. How do you ensure there’s enough pectin in your jam mixture? One way, of course, is to mix high- and low-pectin fruits together. Another is to add citric acid (try lemon juice or lemon slices). The acid helps to release the pectin from the fruit during cooking.

3. What kind of sugar should you use? Ordinary granulated is fine, though you may prefer what is classified as ‘preserving sugar’, which has bigger granules and gives a clearer color to the jam. Steer clear of ‘jam sugar’, which has artificial pectin incorporated. The fewer factory chemicals the better.

4. Warm the sugar before adding it to the fruit. Spread it on a baking tray and put in a low oven for 10 minutes or so. Warm sugar will dissolve more quickly in the fruit mush and help it get back to the boil more quickly. This gives a fresher tasting jam.

5. If your jam won’t set, take affirmative action. Refrain from simply boiling it to death – the sugar will darken and the jam will end up dull in both looks and flavor. Instead, add the juice of a small lemon and stir this in to perk up the pectin levels.

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