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Making jam. Hedgerow foragers this way(9 Posts)
So every summer/ autumn I get very ambitious about jam making (in my breadmaker because it has a setting for it and I am a lazy slattern.
Without fail, every year I get jam that is not thick/ clumpy enough, sometimes I get a bit of mould in the top of the jar despite (I think) sterilising meticulously, and the taste of the jam is ok but not amazing.
Does anyone wish to share jam making tips please?
Don’t use the bread maker, mine doesn’t set jam either as I don’t think it gets hot enough. Use a wide bottomed pan and only do small amounts of fruit until you get the feel for it. 600g fruit and 600g sugar will make about 2 jars and a ‘bit for the fridge’ to eat.
Read Delia Smiths guide to preserving- it’s on her website.
Berries (strawberries, currants, etc) have very little pectin so you need to either add lemon juice or put something else in (like apples or stone fruit) to make up for the lack of pectin. However I never put apples in as it can dull the flavour or the other fruit. Plums are the easiest place to start and if they are unripe the jam will set quicker. Damsons make the best jam if you can get hold of them.
To clean the jars, first check that the lids are undamaged and that the rubber seal on the lid is not dirty or discoloured and wash in hot soapy water, dry with kitchen paper and pop into the oven (when the oven is cold) and turn the temp to about 150 degrees. Let them heat up for at least 30 minutes- the jam should bubble as it hits the jars. I’ve never had any issues with mould doing this.
You probably will need to have an hour and a bit undisturbed time to make it, I love shutting the door and turning the radio on and being left alone for the afternoon 😂
I buy liquid pectin and follow the recipe (several included) in the package insert.
I'm still using jam from 2012, so i must be doing something right.
We've cut down on jam as I still literally have about 10 jars in the larder from past jam making experiences.
Freeze all your fruit, and then when you have enough, pop it in the pan and cook it down. if you have enough in one swoop then go straight to wash and prepare into a pan.
If strawbs or rasps ie you want the pips in, then once it is cooked down, find out what volume of cooked fruit you have and add the same volume of sugar. Then add pectin if the fruit needs it. If you don't want the pips, strain it overnight through a muslin, and do the same, exact same volume of sugar as you have liquid. Pectin if needed.
Then put it into a big pan, heat to dissolve the sugar, then rolling boil until the jam will set on a plate from the freezer, or on the back of a spoon, or once you have made enough jam you can tell as the top tends to change and start sticking to the sides of the pan. Some people use lemon juice, some skim off the fuzz on the top; I like to leave it and skim it off at the end and put that on some toast or crackers once cool.
Then using sterilised jars, ladle and funnel, ladle into funnel straight into the jars, pop a sterilised lid on and leave to cool. The lids should pop at some point as the jam cools and reduces in volume.
Label and then store.
Def give over with the breadmaker, they do not get hot enough. Not for jam you want to keep...fair enough if you are just making one or two jars to use up promptly though.
Minimum water to get your fruit to melt into juicy pulp, the more you add to start with the more you will have to boil it once the sugar goes in, too much boiling means you will lose the freshness and clarity of flavour...you just get a sticky sweet jam that could be anything
You do need to add more water if you are making jelly though as you want a good stiff boil to get all the flavour and maximum amount of juice once it had drained through the jelly bag.
Do not add the sugar until the fruit is properly cooked, blackcurrants or anything with a heavyish skin will be like little boiled plasticky bits if you add the sugar too soon
If you have a pressure cooker prep the fruit in that first, it's ideal for the pre sugar stage.
Try and use as wide a pan as possible once the sugar is added, then you are evaporating water to get the temperature up to setting point which will happen faster in a wide pan.
Strawberries and rhubarb are buggers to set so maybe use jam sugar for those as it has extra pectin, but pretty much all other fruit will set well with normal granulated provided you haven't drowned it with water to start
In fact if you slice strawbs or rhubarb and put them overnight in a large bowl with an equal quantity of sugar and juice of a large lemon loads of liquid will come out of the fruit, no water will be required and a decent set is easy to get.
General principle is a pound of sugar to a pound of fruit, or if you are making a jelly it is a pound of sugar to a pint of juice.
I finally made some rosehip & apple jelly last week from last years rosehips that I put in the freezer, I am going to make rosehip tea with it when people are going down with colds. It's delicious on toast!
AND I am going to make some blackcurrant jelly too!
I agree that damsons make the best ever jam. Based on Delia recipe...
1.5Kg damsons (preferably slightly underripe)
1.2Kg caster sugar
Simmer damsons in water until really soft, mash with a potato masher, then simmer for a further five minutes.
(As damsons have a really high stone to flesh ratio, I then use a fork to pick out the stones into a sieve set over a bowl, this is the tedious bit. Then I squidge them back over the pan to get all of the flesh off.)
Bring back to the boil, add the sugar and boil hard for 10 mins (if you have a thermometer you’re looking for 104C).
I don’t bother with sterilising the jars, I just run them plus lids through the dishwasher. I use a cheap jam funnel to fill the pots, keeping the lids face down until I use them, covering each pot as I fill it. Never had a problem with mould.
I also us the dishwasher making sure it is on the sani or hottest cycle. My Mom taught me to submerge the lids in boiling water and remove them one at a time as you fill the hot jars.
Must get motivated to make some dill pickles!
How are you sterilising your jars? I wash them in hot soapy water then rinse well and put them in the oven on a low heat. I boil lids in a saucepan of water then leave them to dry.
I've never made jam in a breadmaker but I can't imagine it would get hot enough - if the jam doesn't reach a certain temperature it won't set. Doesn't mean it won't taste nice but it'll be more of a sauce than a jam! How well a jam sets depends on the amount of pectin, which varies from fruit to fruit but also on how ripe the fruit is. Strawberries are notorious for being low pectin, and the riper they are the (even) lower the pectin content. I always use jam sugar (sugar with extra pectin) for fruits that don't have enough or are overripe and have some fresh lemon juice on standby for extra pectin if needed. Note: this has to be 'proper' lemon juice, not the stuff from a bottle. Tried that and failed
Regards the taste, I always leave fruit to cook for as long as it takes to break down, which is often longer than the recipe suggests. It gives the flavour more time to develop. I once made blackberry jam from the same blackberries as someone else (out of the same hedge) - I let mine cook down, they got impatient and mashed them. Their partner told me (on the quiet!) that my jam tasted nicer...
I recommend the River Cottage Preserves book, it's really handy. Home made jam is lovely but it does need a bit of patience
Agree about the added pectin. www.fruitypreserves.co.uk/what-is-pectin-and-which-fruits-are-high-in-it/
A lemon well scrubbed, quartered and boiled up with your soft fruit works well and can be lifted out easily. Also, it has the added bonus of lifting the flavour a bit by adjusting the acidity. Winemakers do it all the time.
The breadmaker may be good for the initial cook of your fruit but it needs a rolling boil once the sugar has dissolved. Can it do this?
Store your pots in the fridge if you are not confident.
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