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Jam makers - a novice needs your help!

(42 Posts)
milkmoustache Mon 13-Jul-09 10:16:26

Have just turned 40 and my thoughts are turning to jam-making... Do I need to buy a preserving pan, or would my Le Creuset casserole do the job? And what is the point of preserving sugar - how is it different from caster or granulated?

thehairybabysmum Mon 13-Jul-09 10:23:00

Personally i think you need a jam pan...they are v. big. I assume your le C would work fine though.

Preserving sugar has a setting agent in it i think, ive never needed it, normal sugar works fine, even with strawberry jam.

midnightexpress Mon 13-Jul-09 10:23:14

I do mine in either a Le Creuset or just a big pan that I otherwise use for cooking pasta, so no, wouldn't bother with a special pan.

Also beware, there are two kinds of 'special' sugar; jam sugar and preserving sugar. Preserving sugar is for fruits that are natuarally high in pectin like blackcurrants. It has larger crystals, which makes the sugar dissolve slower and leads to clearer jam (apparently, haven't tried it). Jam sugar has added pectin to help the jam set (although you can get the same effect by using lemon juice and putting the pips in a muslin bag inteh jam while it's cooking. But jam sugar useful for things like strawberry jam, which have less pectin.

midnightexpress Mon 13-Jul-09 10:24:51

I wonder if it happens naturally when you turn 40? I'm 43 and have recently become mildly obsesses with jam, marmalade and pickles.

bellavita Mon 13-Jul-09 11:09:27

Blimey, this is spooky. I will be turning 44 in August and my thoughts have recently turned to jam making. I have loads of blackberries in the freezer that need using up.

PheasantPlucker Mon 13-Jul-09 11:13:05

I just use the big Le Creuset pan.

I turned 40 in December. I started making jam last summer!

Jam sugar has changed my life!

bellavita Mon 13-Jul-09 11:15:26

Have just added jam sugar to my online shop blush

Lilymaid Mon 13-Jul-09 11:19:28

I use a preserving pan - you certainly need a very large pan if you are attempting any recipes that require 2kg sugar as the mixture will come up almost to the top of the preserving pan when boiling.
If you make smaller amounts - i.e. using 1kg sugar or less, a large pan with a thick base would do fine.
As already said, use the sugar with pectin if you are making strawberry jam or for other fruits lacking pectin. Otherwise granulated is absolutely fine.

mrsdisorganised Mon 13-Jul-09 11:22:08

I wouldn't buy a special pan, I use a huge soup pan and have always used normal granulated sugar, my jam always turns out well. Oh and I'm 29 and have been making jam etc since I was 18 when we got our own home..blush must be too much of a home girlblush!

pointydog Mon 13-Jul-09 11:36:42

My mum makes jam, uses any big saucepan. We made some in a poorly-equipped holiday cotage last summer. Normal sugar fine too. Beautiful bright red raaspberry jam.

Maybe I should be making chutney. I might look into it. I should make an Over 40 To Do List

PheasantPlucker Mon 13-Jul-09 11:59:48

Chutney rocks! Made loads last year, and totally stank my house out last week making onion marmalade!

kiwibella Mon 13-Jul-09 20:58:44

I was talking about this with a stall-holder at our local farmers market recently grin. She suggested that using normal sugar with raspberry jam helps it to keep the bright red colour.

I've wanted to have a go at jam making too... but I'm a few years away from 40 grin. I have been hesitant because I am not sure what to do about jars? Love to know your advice wink.

kiwibella Mon 13-Jul-09 20:59:34

no... sorry, it was cooking it in the microwave that kept the colour!! Oops blush. She said she was a convert and only made jam in the microwave now.

thehairybabysmum Tue 14-Jul-09 09:17:37

My raspberrry isnt done in the microwave but is still a lovely red...i use a soft set recipe though and normal sugar.

PP...can you post the onion marmalade recipe please, sounds lovely!

PheasantPlucker Tue 14-Jul-09 12:41:14

Onion Marmalade - makes 5 225g jars

100ml olive oil
2kg onions, peeled and finely sliced
200g demerara sugar
150g redcurrant jelly
300ml cider vinegar
50 ml balsamic vinegar
1tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Heat oil, add onion. Reduce heat, cover + cook ovr low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 40 minutes or until onions starting to colour.

Add sugar and jelly, increase heat, stir more often, for about 30 mins, when mixture looks a nutty brown colour.

Remove from heat for a few mins then add vinegar. Return to heat, cook rapidly for another 10 mins or so.

Remove from heat, add salt + pepper. Put into warm, sterilised jars, and seal with vinegar proof lids. It will look all treacly and brown.

Flo23 Tue 14-Jul-09 12:47:06

Oooh! Just embarking on my first jam making session..(am 35 btw)

Have plums and regular granulated sugar. Jars sterilising, but have just realised I don't have wax discs- will this be ok or first big mistake!?

pollywobbledoodle Tue 14-Jul-09 12:54:45

kiwibella i just put the jars and lids in the dishwasher with the other crocks but on 60....make sure they are warm before you put jam in tho....i usually put them in the oven at about 50

ordinary sugar has always been fine for me but haven't made strawberry jam. the sugar usually dissolves quicker if warmed

if over 2 lbs of fruit go for a proper jam pan because it has to boil rapidly and comes high up the pan....below this a pressure cooker pan/big le creuset is fine

pollywobbledoodle Tue 14-Jul-09 12:56:25

flo23...have you got greaseproof paper to cut circles out of?

if not you need to fill the jars to the top otherwise they can go mouldy

Flo23 Tue 14-Jul-09 13:00:20

Thanks PWD, will go and cut some out!

bamboobutton Tue 14-Jul-09 13:03:17

i agree with hairybabysmum, you need a proper jam pan.

jam will bubble up quite a bit and the last thing you need is boiling jam spilling all over your hobtop. plus they have very thick bottoms to stop the jam burning.

i've been making jam and chutney since i was a child, so it's not just something that comes on at 40grin my sister won first prize at the WI produce competition for her chutney, i don't think the old ladies liked her muchgrin

ingles2 Tue 14-Jul-09 13:08:59

Jam making is fantastic! Can I recommend gooseberry which goes a beautiful pink colour and rhubarb/ginger..
You don't need a jam pan, but it's nice to have one... but can I recommend a jam thermometer.
I used to spend ages with frozen plates, dobbing little blobs of jam to see if it was at setting point... the thermometer makes it sooo easy. And it's easy to make fudge with it as well.

ingles2 Tue 14-Jul-09 13:10:54

I've got this thermometer

mumof2222222222222222boys Tue 14-Jul-09 13:29:41

I am old before my time...38 but have been at this for a while.

I use a big stock pot and don't have a thermomoter - turns out well!

kiwibella Tue 14-Jul-09 13:44:55

mmmmm... rhubarb! I love rhubarb grin.

I'm going to head to Lakeland for some jam jars. If anyone can point me somewhere cheaper or easier, please do.

pointydog Tue 14-Jul-09 15:09:53

well, the best way is to keep all the jars you use and clean them out.

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