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Do I need to buy special jars to make jam? Also any tips please

(17 Posts)
octopusinabox Tue 01-Sep-09 10:24:31

I have a load of plums I'd like to try to make some jam with but have never done this before.

Do I need to buy jars or can I just use old ones. Will I need anything else - paper stuff on top??

Any other tips appreciated,


MrsBadger Tue 01-Sep-09 10:47:53

you can use old ones

if they have rubbery ring bits in the lids (eg old jam jars) use them as they are
if not (eg old coffee jars) then you need to use wax circles directly on surface of jam and cellophane circles stretched over the top of the jars with rubber bands

this is my favourite plum/greengage/damson recipe and is dead easy.
Just remember when testing for set that if you err on the under-done side it will just be a bit soft, but if you overcook it it will set like concrete in the jars [voice of bitter experience]

SpaceNoodle Tue 01-Sep-09 10:49:38

I made some plum jam the other day, is lovely! You can reuse old jars, just make sure you wash them thoroughly in hot soapy water and then heat them in the oven to about 150 degrees to sterilise them before you put the jam in (you always put jam into hot jars anyway so do this last).

You will need wax discs, which normally come in packs with the elastic bands and cellophane discs you will need as well. They seem to come in 1lb and 2lb sizes (as in for 1lb and 2lb jars), but I find it easier just to measure the diameter of the top of the jar and then measure the disc to make sure it is big enough - the wax disc needs to meet the sides of the jar to seal it (but it's not the end of the world if they don't, some of my jars are huge and I just can't find wax discs to fit, but as long as there is a wax disc covering most of the jam, and you seal it with cellophane as well, it seems to be fine - you seal it when hot so you can achieve a vaccuum-type seal anyway). You can get packs of wax discs from cooking shops and Lakeland (of course!!). Not sure if supermarkets do them, but would have thought larger ones should. If you have the lids to the jars it is often useful to keep hold of them until you have opened the jam and use them then, as it is easier to use a screw on lid than trying to reattach a cellophane disc with an elastic band every time you have some jam.

You can also use the screw on lid to seal the jar immediately after you have made it, but in this case it is important that the wax disc does fit so there is a proper seal on it.


colditz Tue 01-Sep-09 10:59:47

I used any old jars with clingfilm over the top. I've just finished eating ;last year's blackberry jam .... yum!

Cluckadoodledoo Tue 01-Sep-09 11:12:09

Re use old no probs as above.

If you need more The Range do some really nice inexpensive ones like the posh french jam ones. I bought 2 lots and reuse them as well now as they are very sturdy and a decent size.

octopusinabox Tue 01-Sep-09 19:57:31

Thanks for all that .. I'll take a look at that recipe too. I haven't any of that stuff though so will have to buy some of those discs.

I'm going to give it a go with just a few at first to see if we even like it (never even had plum jam before!)

Probably a daft question but do you need to sieve out/peel the skin?

Colditz - do you mean you put clingfilm over the lids or under or something else?
Ah, I've just reread SpaceNoodle's post and have just realised you don't put the lids back on .. is that true?

(my nan would be ashamed of me not knowing all this - she was such a master of jams/cakes etc blush

MrsBadger Tue 01-Sep-09 22:04:49

no need to seive or peel - and with the recipe I linked to you don't even need to stone them

Cluckadoodledoo Wed 02-Sep-09 09:40:59

It all adds flavour! Especially the stones

midnightexpress Wed 02-Sep-09 09:50:56

Re jars - I get kilner style jars (with the glass lid and metal clip) in Tesco - £1.25 for a jam-size one. They look very nice, so great if you want to give any of your lovely jam away as presents (why would you? grin).

gorionine Wed 02-Sep-09 10:01:48

I have done two jars of peach jam last week, left the peel but stoned them. Sorry for hijack but can anyone tell to me why the one that was in the fridge has gone funny? (tastes yuck) but the one at room temperature is fab?

Hi Cluck great name BTW smile

octopusinabox Thu 03-Sep-09 08:18:28

gorionine - according to my book (I'm no expert as you can tell) it says that it shouldn't be kept in the fridge as it might crystalise. I've no idea why shop bought jam keeps ok in the fridge - maybe someone else can help with that?

I've also another question please - I didn't chop up the plums just halved them but now I have a jam with half plums in it - shouldn't they have disintegrated a bit or is that normal? If I use bigger plums should I chop them up first?


prettybird Thu 03-Sep-09 08:30:21

If you simmered it for long enough before putting the sugar in, the plums should either disintegrate, or be soft enough that wehn you spread the jam, the halves will themselves spread easily.

Once you put the sugar in, the fruit pieces that are left sort of harden.

Instrad of a vanilla pod, I put in a stick of cinnamon when I'm making plum jam.

ApplesinmyPocket Thu 03-Sep-09 08:41:48

One tip I was given which has really improved my jam is to whisk a small knob of butter in at the fast-boil stage - this really helps reduce and even eliminate the foamy scum which otherwise must be scooped off with a slotted spoon.

For plum jam, I add a small amount of chopped stem ginger (the stuff that comes in balls in syrup) which gives it a nice extra flavour.

The humble blackberry which you can gather free at the moment makes wonderful jam, probably my favourite, though I make all types and jellies too - crab apples, another thing people are happy to give away, makes a gorgeous clear rose-coloured jelly (though the pulp must be left to drip overnight through a muslin suspended over a bowl and NOT squeezed or the jelly goes cloudy.)

Cluckadoodledoo Thu 03-Sep-09 10:40:49

I added a few blueberries to victoria plum jam and it added a lovely flavour and improved the colour load! Very very pretty jam!

octopusinabox Sun 06-Sep-09 19:06:23

Just wanted to say thanks again for the info .. I made my jam (just one jar of it) and it's lovely (except for the chewy skin).

I've now got another load of plums so I'm going to try again but hopefully make a lot more to keep/give away. I'll have to sieve out the skins somehow though as they weren't that nice although my husband said he didn't mind them.

If this turns out ok I might give blackberries a try as we already have a fair few and normally just make blackberry tart or crumble with it.

MrsBadger Sun 06-Sep-09 19:35:24

if you halve/quarter the plums first the skin will at least be in smaller bits

or you could do them like tomatoes and blanch them in boiling water first then slip the skins off

if you do strain it, do it after the 30min stewing but before adding the sugar, and use a colander or something with big holes, not a seive, else you might end up with a weirdly smooth-textured jam

octopusinabox Mon 14-Sep-09 22:55:26

Just wanted to add that I've now made a load more jam and it's worked pretty well - it's a bit runny compared to shop bought so maybe I didn't leave it cook long enough but still nice. I tried one lot with blueberries as Cluck suggested and it came out a lovely dark red/purple colour like blackberry jam!

The only question left is what on earth am I going to do with about 100 jars of jam!

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