Sunday, 7 December 2008

Where Are You Jam Makers?

I love Jam, I could eat Jam sandwiches morning, noon and night. I love strawberry, raspberry, apricot, pear, plum, cherry you name it. So it is with joy in my heart that I, yes little olde me is going to embark on making some. How hard can it be, some sugar some fruit.

Mmmmm well so I thought, pectin, jam sugar, wax discs, jam covers and lids, labels, skimming, processing in a boiling bath, setting ,three saucers in the freezer.

So you see not quite as easy as I thought, I dearly hope I have one or two brilliant jam makers who read and look on me as someone they would love to help get me on the road to making my jam.

I do kind of get the gist on how to make the jam, and would love to know:

Can I buy jam sugar from anywhere?

What precisely do I need to sterilise and for how long, we have no dishwasher?

Should I use wax discs if I am having twist lids?

What would be a nice easy fruit to use for a beginner?

Do you skim the foam?

Please help me get out of this jam :)



  1. I've only ever made strawberry jam using Nigella Lawson's recipe which is so increibly easy and delicious.
    I don't bother with wax discs when using screw top jars.
    I sterilise by using boiling water to overfill each jar for at least 15 minutes.
    Don't skim the foam, it looks odd but it disappears when the jam sets.
    Saucer in the freezer is the best tip for jam making.
    jam Sugar should be readily available in supermarkets

    Hope it goes well

    April xx

  2. Oooh, this sounds lovely. Looking forward to seeing the results. Can't help you though as I've never made it. One of the blogs I follow (on my blog list) has lots of useful info like this - it's called 'Down to Earth'. Hope it all goes well.

  3. Hello,
    I made jam for the first time this year using a recipe in "A Year of Family Recipes" by Lesley Wild. What attracted me to this particular recipe is that, as a jam making novice, I have often been completely confused about the whole pectin etc ... but this recipe listed different fruit and whether to use lemon juice or not depending on the acidity and whether you should use preserving, jam or granulated sugar - depending on the pectin level of the fruit. Once you have got that sorted - it was easy peasy! I did find the whole "Setting Point" difficult, but after about five attempts I managed it! What fruit are you planning to use? I used blackberries, and they made the most wonderful jam!
    I sterilised my jars by washing in soapy water, rinsing and then putting in the oven for about 15 minutes.
    You will definitely be able to find jam sugar in the supermarket - I got mine from Tesco!
    If you would like me to send you the Acidity Level/Pectin Level info - let me know!
    Good luck!

  4. Thank you so much for the fantastic help ladies, I have thanked you personally, never thought I would be so excited but I am and can't wait to get jam making :)


  5. Hello,

    I hope this helps!

    Acidity level LOW - add lemon juice (2tbs per 500g fruit)
    Pectin level LOW - use preserving or jam sugar

    Acidity level MEDIUM - no lemon juice needed
    Pectin level MEDIUM to LOW - use preserving or jam sugar

    Redcurrants or Blackcurrants:
    Acidity level HIGH - no lemon juice needed
    Pectin level HIGH - use granulated sugar

    Acidity level MEDIUM - lemon juice only needed if very rip (2tsp per 500g of fruit)
    Pectin level LOW - use preserving or jam sugar

    Damsons or plums:
    Acidity level HIGH - no lemon juice
    Pectin level HIGH - use granulated

    Acidity level MEDIUM - no lemon juice
    Pectin level MEDIUM - use either granulated, preserving or jam sugar.

    My recipe used equal amounts of fruit and sugar. Enjoy your jam-making and thank you for the lovely comments you left on my blog! Oh, and preheat your oven to 180degree C or gas mark 4 for sterilising your jars.


  6. I use jam sugar with pectin already in it. You can buy it in all the supermarkets. I recently made crab apple jelly for the first time and boy that was easy! :-) I washed my jars out and then put them in the oven at about 80 degrees for 15 mins or so to sterilise.

  7. hi there!
    Sounds great.....i'd love to have a time at the mo tho:>(((

  8. Hiya Mary! It's easy, the hardest part is really getting the setting right. Good tips above. I sterilise the jars also by washing them putting in a low oven for 15 mins before putting the hot jam in. Hubs is better than me at getting the setting right - he just leaves it boiling for a long time... a good 20 minutes, I'd say. Damson and plum are the easiest, as they set very quickly. Strawberry is probably the hardest. Also, we don't buy wax discs, but cut up old washed cereal inners... a real make do and mend thing I got from an aunt years ago. Good luck! x

  9. Im sorry hun but I'm a bit useless at making and baking but I'm sure you will make some yummy jam! Cant wait to hear all about your jam making tales...Claire xx

  10. Hi Mary...Ive tagged you - so please drop by my blog and pick up the rules...its been changed to our favourite holiday recipe. we thought it would be a fun tag to take part in for this time of year!

    love Happy x

  11. Good luck with the jam making process; I only tried once when I was younger... and it was a huge disaster! I'd be glad for any tips too :)

    Mademoiselle M


  12. I sterlise by putting them in the oven.
    I get my jam sugar/pectin mix from Lakeland, they have lots of jam bits and bobs, worth looking on their site.

  13. I look forward to seeing how your jam making goes, it's something I would like to try but worry there's too much involved!

    I snuggled in bed last night with some toast and jam in fact - yummy!

    Victoria xx

  14. Mary - if I can do it anyone can!!!
    The tricky thing is the set as Lacey said, but I have in the past left it for the day in the jar and when it still looked runny I dumped it back in the pan and reboiled!!! I'm making Apple and Rosemary jelly at the minute... but jelly is a faff waiting for it to drip!! Jam's much easier. Xx Hope it goes well keep us posted Xx

  15. Hi Mary,

    Take a look at my last post on my blog. Your in it ;-)


  16. Hello! I love jam making. I think the best advice is not to be afraid of it, It's great fun and tastes delicious. I always sterilise jars with boiling water and then pop them in the oven for a while too. I always remember making jam with my mum when I was little and loved putting a blob of the jam on a saucer of cold water and rolling it around to see if it reached setting point, I think I wasted more than we made! Good luck

  17. Hi! We use the discs as well as the twist lids. Don't know why really, but have always done that - I think the wax discs are put on asap, to keep any germs out, so as soon as you've filled the jars. Sort of an extra seal. x

  18. Hello Mrs Jam maker!

    Howare you today?xxx

  19. Oh dear, i hope Miss Poppins is ok?

    How lovely that she is knitting for you!

    Please come with us next time, you will be more than welcome!
    We so missed you last time!

    The ginnel shop is fab!


  20. Hi there,
    Oooh, I love making all preserves and have been doing it for a few years now, entered village show this year and won 3 second prizes, even! Don't use waxed discs as well as a twist lid, it's not necessary (and against WI rules!) and the paper turns soggy eventually under the lid. Only use waxed disc with cellophane lid. I only use jam sugar (any supermarket) for fruits with low pectin, eg. strawberry, cherry or apricot, when it gives a fab result 'cos the less time you boil the fruit, the better the jam will taste and look (colour of the fruit retained) and without jam sugar, strawberry takes an age to set and cherry is v difficult to set, I find. Jam sugar does not work for conserves, though. Otherwise, normal granulated sugar is fine and much cheaper. I stir the jam very throughly in the pan once it's set to disperse the scum, otherwise I would skim it, it looks better. Never found the knob of butter trick works. I only use fruits in season for the best taste, so nearly all mine is made in the Summer, though I make chutney in the Autumn and Seville orange marmalade in Jan/Feb. I wash my jars and lids in hot soapy water then place jars upside down on kitchen roll on an oven tray, about 80 degrees for 20 minutes. I test via saucers in the freezer but you get to know the approximate setting time for each fruit once you've made a few batches (I write it in my recipe book). If your jam has large chunks of fruit, leave it in the pan for a while before bottling and give it a final stir, otherwise the fruit will sink to the bottom. Oh, and I find for stone fruits like apricots and plums, the skins have a tendency to stick to the bottom and burn near the end of cooking time, so make sure to stir otherwise ithe burnt bits really ruin the flavour. Fab book is Marguerite Patten's Preserve book, cheap at £4.99 on Amazon here:

    Basically, I once knew nothing, you only learn by giving it a go! Have fun.
    Sorry if I've warbled on, feel free to email me for any other advice.
    Hen x


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