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With the Summer season in full swing, what better time than now to pull on your apron and whisk together a batch of homemade jams and preserves? No matter what your favourite fruit is, whether shop-bought or homegrown, our handy guide is here to help you master the steps to creating your own selection of sweet and tasty spreads.
Making your handmade jams and preserves needn't be stressful - it's super easy, provided you've got all the right equipment for the job.
To start, you'll need to ensure you've got an ample amount of storage jars to hold your delicious jam once finished. Jam jars such as the Kilner Strawberry Fruit Preserve Jar or the Glass Jam Jar make perfect options for this project.
Measuring jugs and spoons will help you accurately measure liquids such as water, while some retro-style scales will help you weigh out sugar as well as bring an authentic and traditional feel to your jam-making process. Remember - a thermometer is essential, helping you monitor and measure the temperature of your sweet treats as they cook.
The Kilner Easy Jam Funnel is designed to help you easily separate your recently cooked jam into your desired jars, while the Kilner Wax Discs Pack are designed to help keep your homemade preserves fresher for longer. For those looking to infuse or strain their preserves, the Kilner Muslin Squares can easily be cut down to your desired size and even washed for repeated use.
Choose Your Fruit - Use pre-picked or opt for frozen varieties. Choosing suitable fruits for your preserves is equally as important as cooking them. Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, and Blackberries work wonderfully if combined! (Remember - preserves can only be made in small batches, so stick to 6 cups of berries at a time to avoid overcooking).
Wash Your Jars and Your Fruit - If you've got a dishwasher, then utilising the 'sanitise' function will help to ward off bacteria. Ensure you keep them hot after their wash, reducing the risk of them breaking when filled. If you don't own a dishwasher, wash your jars in hot, soapy water before rinsing. Boil your jars for around 10 minutes, keeping the hot water inside until needed. Rinse your fruit with cold water and remove the hulls if necessary - in most circumstances, you'll 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 which helps the jam thicken. Once crushed, measure the sugar content - this often depends on the jam you want to create. (If you're making three jars of jam, then 450g of granulated sugar is suggested). Combine the crushed fruit and sugar into a preserving pan and leave to simmer over low heat, stirring every so often until 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 set point. You'll notice the jam will start to thicken, producing much thicker bubbles. To test the jam, remove the whole pan from the heat. Spoon a little of the jam onto a cold side plate and leave to cool for a few minutes. Once cooled, press your finger into the jam. If the skin wrinkles, it's ready. If the substance is too runny, return to the pan and continue boiling for another few minutes before re-testing.
Filling and Processing The Jars - Once satisfied that the jam is set, carefully spoon the mixture into the hot sterilised jars. Make sure to twist on the lids whilst the jam is still hot. The jam will thicken as it cools and the seals of your chosen jars should dip once cooled. If your pot hasn't been sealed, you must consume the stored jam within two weeks.
Once your jars are nice and cool and ready to be stored away, make sure you label them to easily track the jam type, ingredients, batch cook date, and use-by dates. A lovely label will also help your new jam look wonderfully rustic, fitting in with the theme of homemade treats.
Whether you're planning on gifting your culinary creations to friends, loved ones, or guests, or if you're looking to fill up your own kitchen cabinets with something tasty, additional accessories such as the jam pot covers, pretty ribbon, or traditional string will help you tie dainty bows, and knots - ensuring your picturesque preserves stand out.
Although the process of making jam is straight forward, here are some things to remember:
Ensure All Your Equipment Is Clean - This'll help keep your jam fresh and fight the risk of bacteria.
Stick To Small Batches - Large volumes can take a long time to reach setting point, resulting in the fruit breaking up.
Always Leave Your Jam To Settle - Leave your jam to settle for 15 minutes to prevent the fruit rising in your jars.
Granulated or Preserving Sugar Is Best - The coarse grains of granulating sugar are known to dissolve more slowly and evenly, providing a better result.