Wanted: Jam Guru

Although we haven’t had an allotment long enough to finish clearing it, let alone get it planted up and yielding produce, I’m already thinking ahead. Some day, we’ll have a glut of something, and rather than let it rot (perish the thought!) I’d like to learn what to do with it. So I’ve got hold of a preserving pan, some jars, and a jam thermometer, and I’m trying to learn how to make jam.

The first attempt, at an “easy recipe, good for beginners”, didn’t go too well. I tried to make a small batch of plum jam. As plums are high in pectin, this is meant to be a doddle, but somehow I managed to mess it up. The jam got to 98/99C quickly, but wouldn’t reach 102C, setting point. While I was still trying to coax it up there, it started to burn, and the end result was a sticky mess.

So I now have no plums, a lot less sugar, a pan with a thick layer of plum syrup welded to it, and, crucially, no jam. What I need is a jam guru to show me the way of preservation.

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2 Responses to Wanted: Jam Guru

  1. Rob says:

    Firstly, throw away the thermometer! It’s not an exact science, but it’s a whole lot easier than you’re trying to make it ;>)

    Basic recipe: fruit + sugar into the preserving pan. Put small plate into the freezer. Bring mixture to a rolling boil for a few minutes, then put some of the jam on to the now cold plate. Give it 30 seconds or so, then ‘push’ the jam with your finger. If it wrinkles, it’s ready. Also, don’t stir your jam when your boiling it, brings the temperature down.

    Try a few different jams before you try strawberry though, it’s a sod to get to set ;>)

    Oh and for the pan, fill with cold water and leave it overnight. Works a treat.

  2. Tim says:

    Thanks for the pointers, Rob. I think it was the precise setting point figure of 102 degrees that made me think I needed to follow the instructions to the letter. Next time I’ll just wing it and see how it turns out.

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