Tuesday, 10 January 2012

i love making jam..

i think it's embedded in my dna..let's face it it's not that long since human survival depended on preserving food in seasons of plenty in readiness for leaner times..now, at least in australia, we can buy most food stuffs all year round and so there is no intrinsic need for us to stock our larders for survival purposes..but there is something deep within my psyche that gets great joy and comfort from the process of preserving and also from the knowledge that i have been involved in a minor way in my food supply chain..i feel pretty darned good when i open up my preserves cupboard and see the jars of jam glistening orange or ruby, the lycopene capsules in the guise of tomato puree and the naked slices of bottled pears and apples..

i said i love making jam but i only really love eating it when it's quite fresh..so once it's a few months old i tend to only use it in cooking in foods such as steamed puddings, tarts and biscuits..part of the problem for me is the way the colour and flavour deteriorates over time when the jam is cooked to a good set..to avoid this i tend to boil my jam to a light set but then it is prone to mould..

today i decided to experiment with my strawberry jam making by pureeing the fruit rather than cutting it into pieces..and because i find most strawberry jam too sweet i added a lot more lemon than most recipes recommend and i also added citric acid..then i cooked the jam to a light set so that it can be used as a sauce on ice cream or yoghurt, as a jam for filling cakes, crepes or on toast or bread or swirled through home made ice cream after churning..i was going to add grand marnier to the jam before bottling it but i decided that it would be more versatile to add it to the jam at the time of use..and for the first time i processed my jars of jam in my fowler's preserver rather using the usual method of bottling the jam in sterilized jars and capping with lids or cellophane..if i find that, in the long term, the keeping quality and the flavour of the jam is superior to it being bottled in the traditional way i will continue using this method..

strawberry jam or preserves

ingredients (i made two 1 kilo lots)

1000 gms strawberries washed and hulled
900 gms granulated sugar
juice 1.5 lemons
1 tsp citric acid

fowlers vacola method

put a plate in the freezer to use to test the jam set
wash 8 (for 2 batches of jam as above) each of: size 14 (300 mls) vacola jars, 3 "lids, size 3 rubber rings and clips
put rubber rings on jars and place them on a heat proof non metalic surface
have a funnel and ladle ready
set up vacola unit

puree berries in a food processor or blender and place in a large heavy saucepan
bring to the boil, lower heat, and simmer for 15 minutes
remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, lemon juice and citric acid
place the saucepan back on a low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved
brush down the sides of the saucepan with boiling water to remove any sugar granules
once sugar is dissolved turn up heat to high and bring to the boil 
once boiling place a heat mat under the saucepan to prevent scorching
stir often removing scum as it develops
test jam set at regular intervals by placing a teaspoon of jam on the plate from the freezer and, after allowing it to cool, pushing a finger into the jam..if it wrinkles it is ready..take the jam off the heat to prevent overcooking the jam while testing set especially as the jam gets closer to being ready
once the desired set has been reached turn off the heat and stir in an almond size piece of butter to dissipate bubbles and any remaining foam*
ladle jam into jars and leave to cool before sealing with lids and clips
place jars in unit and fill with cold water, turn on the heat, and process the bottles for one hour (it should not boil in this time)
once processed empty unit and remove the bottles to a heat proof non metallic surface to cool
after 24 hours the clips remove clips and check the seal by observing for concavity of the lid and the security of the lid's placement
label when cool
store in a cool dark place

traditonal method

8 jars with 250 mls capacity
new lids or cellophane covers and rubber bands and labels

place clean jars in the oven, together with a metal ladle and a funnel, on 100 deg c to sterilize while 
preparing the jam

put a plate in the freezer to use to test the jam set

follow method above to *
take jars from the oven and place on a heat proof non metallic surface
ladle jam using funnel into hot jars and seal with lids or cellophane covers that have been wiped with vinegar and secured with a rubber band
label when cool
store in a cool dark place

afternoon tea anyone?


  1. Afternoon tea indeed. Shall I bring scones?
    I like my jams tartier as well, especially the strawberry ones. Some lime or lemon goes along way.

  2. will they still be warm by the time you get to melbourne? :)

  3. This looks great and just the thing for afternoon tea :) I love making jam too! In fact I have run out of jars as I keep making it! :P

  4. Jane, we always boil our finished jars of jam in a water bath to sterlise and preserve them. Your jam has the most gorgeous red colour! :)

  5. it's such fun isn't it lorraine..last night my children took a few jars of an apricot and brandy jam i made this week too which didn't leave me with many jars..i'd only made a 1 kilo batch..looks like i'll just be forced to make more.. :)

    that's good to hear celia because for me using this method was a leap of faith..does your jam retain it's colour and flavour well?

  6. I am right into jam making. I posted about it on my blog http://caroleschatter.blogspot.co.nz/2011/11/making-jam.html