With the Summer season in full swing, what better time than now to pull-on your apron and whisk together your own batch of homemade jams and preserves. No matter what your favourite fruit, whether shop bought or home grown, our handy guide is here to help you master the steps to creating your own selection of sweet and tasty spreads.
Covering all the essential tools, must-follow steps, and even ideas on how to store your culinary creations after they've been jarred, here at The Range we've got everything you need to prevent encountering an array of sticky situations.
Making your own handmade jams and preserves needn't be a stressful task - in fact it's super easy provided you've got all the right equipment for the job.
To start, you'll need to make sure you've got an ample amount of storage jars to hold your scrumptious jam once finished. Jam jars such as the Kilner Preserve Jar or the My Home Glass Jam Jar make perfect options for this kind of project.
Measuring jugs and spoons will help you accurately measure out liquids such as water, while some retro-styloe scales will help you weigh out sugar as well as bring an authentic and traditional feel to your jam-making process. Don't forget - a thermometer is a definite essential, helping you to monitor and measure the temperature of your sweet-treats as they cook.
The Kilner Easy Jam Funnel is designed to help you seperate out your recently cooked jam into your desired jars with ease, whilst the Kilner Wax Discs Pack is designed to help keep your homemade preserves fresher for longer. For those looking to infuse or strain their preserves, then the Kilner Muslin Squares can easily be cut-down to your desired size and can even be washed for repeated use.
If this is your first time making your own jams and preserves then be sure to follow this handy step-by-step guide to set you on your way:
Choose Your Fruit - No matter whether you pick your own homegrown berries, use pre-picked, or opt for frozen varieties, choosing the right fruits for your preserves is equally as important as the cooking process itself. Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, and Blackberries all work wonderfully well if combined together! (Remember - preserves can only be made in small batches, so make sure to stick to about 6 cups of berries at a time to avoid overcooking and disspointment).
Wash Your Jars and Your Fruit - If you've got a dishwasher, then utilising the 'sanitise' function will help to ward off bacteria ahead of filling with your jams. Make sure you keep them hot after their wash as this will reduce the risk of them breaking when filled with hot jam. If you don't own a dishwasher then you can wash your jars in hot, soapy water before rinsing. You must then boil your jars for approx. 10 minutes, keeping the hot water inside them until they are required to be filled with jam.
Rinse your fruit with plain cold water and remove the hulls if neccessary - in most circumstances you'll just need to remove the stems and leaves.
Crush The Fruit, Measure The Sugar, and Combine - By gently crushing the fruit you will release its natural pectin - an ingredient that is needed to help the jam thicken. Once crushed, you must then measure out the sugar content - this often depends on the type of jam you're looking to create. (If you're making 3 jars of jam, then 450g of granulated sugar is suggested). Combine both the crushed fruit and sugar into a preserving pan and leave to simmer over a low heat, stirring every so often until all the sugar has completely dissolved.
Skimming and Testing - Bring the fruit mixture to a rolling boil and cook for approximately 3 - 5 minutes or until the jam reaches its natural setting point. You'll notice the jam will start to thicken, producing much thicker bubbles. To test the jam, make sure you remove the whole pan from the heat. Spoon a little of the jam onto a cold side plate or saucer and leave to cool for a couple minutes. Once cooled, fresh your finger into the jam. If the skin wrinkles then it's ready, if the substance is still too runny then return to the pan and continue boiling for another few minutes before re-testing.
Filling and Processing The Jars - Once you are satisfied that the jam is set, then carefully spoon the mixture into the hot sterilised jam jars. Make sure to twist on the lids too whilst the jam is still hot. Remember that the jam will thicken naturally as it cools and the seals of your chosen jars should dip once cooled. If your jar hasn't sealed, then you must consume the stored jam within a couple of weeks.
Once your jars are nice and cool and ready to be stored away, make sure you label then to keep track of the the jam type, ingredients, batch cook date, and use-by dates with ease. A lovely label will also help your new jam look wonderfully rustic, really fititng in with the thme of homemade treats.
No matter whether you're planning on gifting your culinary creations to friends, loved ones, or guests, or if you're just looking to fill-up your own kitchen cabinets with something tasty, additional accessories such as the jam pot covers, pretty ribbon, or the traditional string are designed to help you tie dainty bows and knots - ensuring your picturesque preserves stand out!
Although the process of making your own jams is pretty straight forward, here are some Top Tips to remember when it comes to perfecting your preserves:
Ensure All Your Equipment Is Clean - This'll help keep your jam fresh and fight off the risk of bacteria.
Stick To Small Batches - Large volumes can take a long time to reach setting point and can result in your fruit breaking up.
Always Leave Your Jam To Settle - Leave your jam to settle for approx. 15 minutes to prevent the fruit rising once poured into your jars.
Granulated or Preserving Sugar Is Best - The coarse grains of granulating sugar are known to dissolve more slowly and evenly, helping to provide a better result.