How long have I been making jam? Oh, twenty, no thirty. Hmmm? No, not years, minutes. Seriously, dear reader I really probably shouldn’t be trying to teach the uninitiated neophytes into the art of jam crafting, but if you know me I throw myself into something with the understanding hat I understand nothing, I then work meticulously at learning all that I can learn. I know my limits, but Jack wouldn’t be Jack if he didn’t push them. So here I am, teaching you to make jam. This is pretty basic at its core, it’s jam sugar jam, the shortcut to jam, but don’t scoff at jam sugar, dear reader. It’s no cheat and still requires a decent knowledge of the process. It’s either jam sugar or pectin and citrus. The sugar is vastly more convenient. What I’ve done is use the basic jam recipe from the packet, added what I’ve learned through my last few forays into jam making. The recipe is a trifle more dense and wordy than usual, but I think it’l be a help to aspiring jammers. Now, that’s much to much seriousness, let’s talk jam. Rare and exotic jam. Apparently.
What the big idea? You mean that this isn’t your garden variety jam? That the red berries you’d expect from the name strawberries is in absentia and in their place is something so rare, so ephemeral that it seems like a distant dream? Yeah! I did it, dear reader, I finally harvested enough alpine wonder yellow strawberries to make jam. The work was tireless, I fed them, tended them and watched them carefully. Taking only the ripe ones, so tender they’d burst at a touch. These plants that started from a separated clump of growing seeds, carefully transplanted and grown by Jack. It’s taken well over a year to make, what is at its heart just jam, but it’s been a labour of love. Not to toot my own horn, but I can’t seem to find a single jam recipe containing all yellow strawberries. I’m really happy, dear reader, this was something silly I started and had to see though. Now, back to seriousness and scrapping out some semblance of sense in my preserving endeavours.
Okay, the recipe below is pretty self explanatory, but I know it ever hurts to have a little extra above the recipe, that way if you’re struggling you can just look above and find some clarity. Though I’m using yellow strawberries, the recipe is for any low pectin fruit. Pectin is what gives the jam its set. Jam sugar has both citric acid and added pectin. I think the acid helps draw the pectin out of the fruit and helps it set. I’m not sure, but you only need to know it needs both these elements to set and then you’re set. I could copy a generic spiel from Google about why you need these, but who would that benefit? This is real hands-on experience. I’m using frozen fruit and I’ve found little difference in the end result. It’ll defrost as it heats. I did layer it and leave it for a while, the yellow strawberries are somewhat drier than the red variety so there wasn’t much juice to be drawn out. The main part of this is to have everything ready, have your jam jars ready to sterilise, and have them pipping hot to prevent the glass shattering, have the lids soaking in warm water, have a funnel ready too if you can, a jam funnel is a wise investment, not forgetting the plate in the freezer, I leave in a few small saucers. Basically have everything to hand and be prepared to watch it like a hawk, sugar can spit violently when boiled. If you’d rather leave out the butter then be prepared to skim the fruit scum, I’ve hear stirring in the opposite direct helps too. It’s all pretty speedy when you’ve started. You want to be quick too, get the hot jam into the hot jars and seal them with the hot lids. Jam can last years if properly stored.
One thing to keep in mind is that the firmness of your fruit will also affect the final set. Some are crinkly, they form a skin over the jam when cool, others like this are more of a extremely thick syrup, near unpour-able, but softer than some others. The yellow strawberries are so tender they just melted into the sugar. The tester was thick and so flavoursome, they didn’t just become sweeter thanks to the sugar, the sugar brought out the natural sweetness of the fruit. Experiment, try out all different kinds, in moderation, naturally. Instead of my weekly baking I’ll open a pot of jam on occasion. It’s all about balance. There are many ways to use fresh fruit, I like making jam, but I also love using it in breads and smoothies. There is a lot to be weary of when it comes to sugary treats, but if you’re mindful then a little bit of what you fancy does you good, eh, dear reader? This will probably be my last jam post for a while. I have fruit in the freezer, but I won’t be doing anything very new with it. I might be making sauces with ingredients I can’t eat, tomatoes and chillies, but I don’t know whether I should post what I can’t eat. I do do that on very rare occasions. What do you think, dear reader, is Jack trustworthy enough to tell you about food he can’t eat, but can prepare? Let me know below and I’ll see you again soon.
450g Low Pectin Fruit Such As Raspberries, Strawberries etc Either Fresh or Frozen
450g Jam Sugar
2 Tbsp Butter
1. Wash and prepare fruit. Place a small plate in the Freezer.
2. Add Fruit and Sugar to a large bottomed pot, in alternating layers, filling no more than 1/3 full. Optional: Rest for a few hours to allow the juices to be exracted, this will help the sugar dissolve.
3. Cook uncovered, stirring as necessary to prevent burning, on a low heat, do not let simmer, until Sugar has dissolved. Run a wooden or silicone spoon down the bottom of the pot to see if any Sugar crystals remain.
4. Add Butter to pot and bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 4 minutes, stirring as needed, then remove from heat and remove the plate from the freezer. Drop a little of the Jam onto the plate and if it firms up and is tacky to the touch then the Jam is ready. If not boil again for another minute and retest until Jam consistency is right. Remember to consider the texture of the uncooked fruit when testing, it’s firmness or softness will affect the end set too.
7. Wet Clean Jars and heat in the microwave for one to two minutes until dry. While they sterilise soak the lids in boiling water for a minute or two. Pour the warm Jam into the prepared Jars while they’re hot and over with a wax lid then screw on lids and let rest at room temperature overnight.
8. Store in a cool dark place and refrigerate once opened.