Jams

Jams

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

Although few of us now want to devote a day to jam-making, or indeed feel the need for a large store of jam, a new generation of cooks is discovering the pleasure of making just a few pots when a favourite fruit is in season. Jam is made by boiling fruit with sugar (firm fruits are first cooked without sugar until tender) until the mixture is pulpy and will set, when cool, to a soft jelly-like consistency. It is perfectly practical to make a small quantity and does not take long providing you understand a few basic points.

Pectin: The substance in fruit which, with the right balance of acid and sugar, causes jam to set. The fruit used should be firm-ripe as it contains more pectin than when fully ripe. When making jam with fruits that are low in pectin, such as cherries, apricots and strawberries, the setting can be helped by adding some high-pectin fruit (apple, plum, quince, black or red currants) or some lemon peel, including the high-pectin white pith. Commercial pectin is also available.

Setting point: The fruit is usually simmered until soft, then sugar is added and the jam is boiled vigorously until setting point is reached. Test for setting point by using the spoon method or the saucer method below.

The spoon method: Dip a clean wooden spoon into the jam and remove a spoonful. Allow to cool for a few moments, then turn spoon over gently. If jam breaks distinctly from the spoon in heavy, jelly-like drops or flakes, it is ready.

The saucer method: Place a small teaspoon of jam on a cold saucer, cool for 20 seconds, then run a finger through it. If it wrinkles at the edges and stays in two separate sections, it is ready.

Sterilising jars: Wash glass jars in detergent and water, then rinse in fresh water. Boil jars in water for 10 minutes or dry them upside-down in a warm oven for 15 minutes just before filling.

Potting and sealing: Remove jam from the heat, cool slightly and stir gently to distribute the fruit evenly. Use a clean, hot jug or cup and fill to within 3 mm of the top of a sterilised jar. Cover the surface of the hot jam with a greaseproof disc, and seal with screwtop lids or cellophane covers with rubber bands (moisten outside of cellophane first to ensure a tight fit). Label the jars and store.

Storing: Store in a cool, dark place. Once opened, store in the refrigerator. Unless otherwise specified, all jams and preserves in this book can be kept for at least 1 year. However, it is wise to use them before the next season’s replacement for optimum flavour.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

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