If you’re feeling inspired by our post on the top 10 preserving products, then why not try making your own jam?
There’s nothing more satisfying than making your own jam. For full brownie points, it should be made from your own homegrown fruit, but as this isn’t an option for many of us you can always trying planning a trip to your local pick-your-own farm or farmers’ market.
Currently coming into season are blackcurrants (late June to August) and raspberries (at their best in June and July). Both are simple to preserve, although both have low levels of pectin (the natural polysaccharide that causes jam to set), so need a little lemon juice adding to help them along.
Although it’s perfectly possible to manage without special equipment when you’re making jam, investing in a proper preserving (maslin) pan, jam funnel and sugar thermometer will make life a lot easier, particularly if you’re a preserving novice.
Here’s our favourite recipe for blackcurrant jam, which works just as well with raspberries.
- preserving pan
- long-handled wooden spoon
- jam funnel
- two to three jam jars with close fitting lids
- jam thermometer
- baking tray
- 450g fresh blackcurrants
- 450g sugar
- juice of one large lemon
How to make blackcurrant jam
- Start by preparing the fruit. Wash it, then pick through it and remove any stalks, leaves or discoloured berries, then transfer to the preserving pan. Put the saucer in the fridge to chill.
- Boil the kettle, and add 375ml of boiling water to the blackcurrants. Bring the mixture to the boil and let it simmer slowly for 20 to 25 minutes, until the skins of the blackcurrants are tender. The liquid should have greatly reduced, as well.
- Meanwhile, wash and dry the jars and put them on a baking tray in the oven. Turn the oven on to 120 degrees Celsius, and leave for 15 to 20 minutes until you’re ready for them. Sterilise the lids and jam funnel by bringing to the boil in a large pan of water (if you’re only using one or two jars, you can use this method for them, as well.)
- Add the sugar, and stir until dissolved. Add the lemon juice.
- Bring the mixture back to the boil, and cook until the temperature reaches 105 degrees Celsius on the thermometer (this might be marked as the ‘jam set’ point).
- Remove the pan from the heat, and drip a few drops onto the chilled saucer. Turn the plate sideways, and the jam should stay rather than sliding off.
- Remove the jars from the oven and put on a heatproof surface. Put the jam funnel in the first jar, and spoon or pour in the jam. Cover and seal while still hot, then label with the date.
- Store for 6 to 8 months in a cool place, away from bright sunlight. Your jam will probably keep for longer than this, but is best eaten fresher as it will gradually start to lose its flavour.
* As jam, of course! Delicious on scones, toast, teacakes, in jam tarts or the filling in sponge cakes
* As a quick, easy sauce for ice cream – just melt in the microwave or a saucepan, and add a little creme de cassis.
* Make a traditional, old school jam roly poly pudding with proper custard
* Heat a tablespoonful of jam, pass it through a sieve and allow to cool. Use to glaze fruit tarts.
* Stir a spoonful into savoury beef or venison stews to add depth and flavour.
* Use up less-than-perfect summery fruit in an easy compote. Put strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and raspberries into a saucepan and add a little water or apple juice. Simmer until the fruit is soft and tender. Stir in a spoonful or two of blackcurrant jam to taste, allow to cool and serve with creme fraiche.
By Sara Walker