Making your own jam requires some time, patience and sticky fingers, but as a reward you will get a few glasses of delicious jam for colder days. And if you don't have access to fresh fruit, you can use frozen fruit that will be just as good.
What is jam?
Jam is made from pieces of fruit, usually chopped or crushed and cooked with sugar, until the pectin is released and the mixture thickens to a spreadable consistency. The most common fruits used to make jam are berries, grapes and stone fruits. The jam tastes best spread on bread and butter or filled in pastry.
What ingredients do you need to make jam?
Fruit: If you are making jam for the first time, it is best to start with fruits such as citrus high in pectin - apples, cranberries, currants, plums and quinces. This fruit naturally thickens more easily, when cooked with sugar, which is essential for making a good jam.
Sugar: In addition to sweetening, sugar acts as a binder with pectin and fruit acids, creating the ideal gel texture that characterizes jam. Sugar also acts as a preservative, which maintains the permanent color of the fruit and prevents the growth of mold. Low sugar jams often require the addition of more pectin.
Pectin: Commercially produced pectin is sometimes added to jam when the fruit does not contain enough of its own natural pectin. Pectin is a naturally occurring substance found in berries, apples and other fruits. When boiled to a high temperature in combination with acid and sugar, a gel forms.
What equipment do you need to make jam?
Large pot or pan with a heavy bottom: Using a heavy pot will prevent the fruit from burning and at the same time provide more volume for evaporation. The key to making quality jam is to reduce the water in the fruit and thicken it with sugar, so a pot with a strong bottom will allow you to cook the jam for a longer time without burning the contents.
Jam jars:Use heat-resistant closable jars (sterilized) to store jam after cooking. The jam must be hot when you pour it into a sterilized container and finally it needs to be closed properly, otherwise it can mold. Part of the preservation process is that all the air in the jam escapes and the lid is vacuum sealed.
Refractory spatula or wooden spoon: Refractory kitchen utensils do not heat up quickly to high temperatures or chemically react with acidic foods like their metal counterparts. They do not melt like plastic or release chemicals into hot foods.
How to store homemade jam?
When the jam cools down, store it in a dark place, for example in a refrigerator, where it will last you up to a month or in the freezer for up to a year. Preservation significantly extends shelf life. If you process the jam by boiling in a boiling water bath, you can store it in a cool, dry place for up to two years.