I love to make jam. There’s something very satisfying in the whole process. I even love choosing my jars and labels.
I have just a few jam making tips to pass on. Just things I’ve learned along the way.
- Always sterilise your jars. I wash mine in hot soapy water and then put them in a 300F oven for 20 minutes. I put a teatowel in a baking tin and put the jars on that. I love to use recycled jars when I can, but I always buy new lids. They’re cheap and it’s just nicer, especially if the jar once had pickled onions in it! I boil my lids in a pan of water for 10 minutes. Be very careful when you get your jars out of the oven, they are hot, hot, hot. Leave them to cool, just a little minute before you put your hot jam in, if you don’t, the jam will bubble and boil!
- Invest in a candy thermometer. It takes the guess work out of making jam (and caramel, sugar syrup and toffee) There will be a mark on your thermometer that will tell you when the jam has reached the right temperature for the perfect set.
- Stir your cooking jam well, and often. If, by chance it does stick and catch on the bottom, DON’T stir the caught bits back into the jam.
- Always add some lemon juice. As well as adding valuable pectin, for the perfect set, the acid helps cut through the sweetness, adding a nicer balance of flavour.
- Always use a nice, big pan, maybe even bigger than you think you’ll need. Boiling sugar is scalding hot and jam bubbles and splatters. Safer and less anxiety all round if your pot is a nice big one.
- Cook your fruit/s to your desired consistency before adding the sugar. The sugar, once added will, for the most part prevent the further breakdown of tougher skins like apple, plum and peach.
- I use a 1/1 fruit sugar ratio for my jams. For example, 1 kilogram of cooked fruits get 1 kilogram of sugar added to it. I am happy with the flavour and set this gives me, plus, this sugar/fruit ratio affords a nice degree of preservation.
- Store your opened jam in the fridge, just to be on the safe side.
Just lately, I’ve been concentrating on developing a small range of jams using Australian native ingredients. Native fruits and spices often deliver an intense, unique flavour note to dishes, and with judicious use, offer the cook a range of flavours that can’t be replicated with regular ingredients.
I’m very fortunate in that other people seem to like my jam too, so I get to make lots and lots of jam AND then I get the added pleasure of having others enjoy the end result.
This one was the first to be trialled: a beautiful, ruby red blend of strawberry and wild hibiscus. The wild hibiscus flower, or Rosella, is available in jars, in syrup, and I believe people love to add them to a glass of champagne, where they open up for a visual and taste treat.
I used around 6 flowers, and all the syrup in the jar for my kilogram of jam, the “shards” of flower became suspended in the jam, it was lovely. The flavour is subtle and distinctive, and was beautifully complemented by the strawberry.
Happy jam making!
’till next time