Ooooh… I love jam! Who is with me on this?
Preserves make great gifts for any occasion whether they be for birthdays, Christmas or even as wedding favours which are all the rage right now. Or just for the fun and scrumminess of it; homemade jam is simply the best but I’d never entertained the idea of trying to make it myself… the whole process sounded way too complicated and time-consuming.
That was until I came across this brilliant book: The Kilner Cookbook. Oh my! How it has changed my attitude to giving preserving a go! Not only does it cover preserving (for beginners like me!), it also covers topics such as dressings, sauces, oils, lunches, drinks and so much more, and the Kilner equipment needed for each.
My problem is that it’s such a great book that I wanted to try everything at once! But I decided to focus and start with making a yummy and super easy jam… and so this preserving blog is all about just that.
Read on to discover how jam making doesn’t have to be that scary, complicated process, with special ingredients, that you may think it is!
So where to begin? Before you start, check out this list of equipment and read through this blog so that you’re fully equipped and raring to go – should you be missing any equipment, we stock it…
- Jars: Clip Top or Preserve Jars with lids and seals
- Jar Tongs and Oven Gloves: for handling hot jars and pans
- Pans and lids: for sterilising if using the ‘Water Bath’ method, jam making and ‘processing’. If you haven’t got pan lids, a plate that covers the top of the pan will work fine
- Spoons: general selection including a tablespoon
- Scales: for measuring out your ingredients.
- Knife or Strawberry Huller: for hulling the strawberries
- Potato Masher: or similar to crush the strawberries
- Jam Thermometer: the easiest way to test your jam setting point. Alternatively you can use the ‘Wrinkle Test’ method
- Plates: place in the fridge before you start making your jam so that they are chilled in time for when you are ready to test the setting point of your jam if using the ‘Wrinkle Test’
- Chopping Board: an ideal heatproof surface for hot jars
- Funnel: to hygienically and easily transfer the jam from pan to jar
- Ladle: for filling jars
- Non metallic spatula: for removing air bubbles from filled jars
- Strawberries: If you fancy picking your own and are local (Essex), see details on where to pick at the end of this blog
All set? In just 5 easy steps, you’ll be eating scrummy homemade jam in no time – let’s go!
Step 1 - Sterilising:
In order to remove bacteria from your jars, you need to sterilise them so that the jam will remain fresh within the vacuum. Here are some essential tips before starting:
- Make sure that all jars and lids are in good condition before starting.
- Only sterilise your jars a short time before you are ready to fill with your yummy jam so that they are warm at filling time.
- Sterilise more jars than you think you might need as quite often you will end up with more jam than expected!
- Never pour boiling water straight onto jars – always start with cold to avoid cracking!
- Jars/lids will be hot – always use oven gloves and tongs to protect from burns.
- Don’t use any oven method to sterilise – these methods can cause bacteria to harbour in the jars, from any small particles of food that may be lurking in the oven.
There are two easy methods to sterilise: Dishwasher or Water Bath. If you use the ‘Water Bath’ method, you will need a big pan for the jars, and a smaller one for the lids.
- Make sure that your dishwasher is clean and empty and that your jars are clean
- Fill the dishwasher with your clean jars
- Set your dishwasher to the highest setting (or steam setting if it has one) and set the dishwasher off
- Leave to cool slightly in the dishwasher and leave the door closed.
- Remove each jar as you need it, closing the door each time.
Water Bath Method:
- First, remove the lids or rubber seals from your jars and put into the smaller pan. Fill with about 4 inches of water, heat and simmer at around 82 degrees for 10 minutes. Turn off and cover until you are ready to seal the jars.
- Place the jars into a large pan and fill with cold water until the jars are covered. Bring to the boil and keep at the maximum temperature for 10 minutes. Turn off and cover to keep the jars warm until you are ready to fill them.
Step 2 - Making your jam
Ok, so now you’re ready to make your jam! Check out this easy recipe – you can’t go wrong!
Ingredients - makes approximately 3 standard jars of jam
• 900g (2 lb) fresh strawberries, washed, dried and hulled
• 800g (1 3/4lb) caster sugar
• 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- Wash and hull the strawberries. An easy way to hull is to use a Strawberry Huller. Add all of the strawberries into a pan and crush - a potato masher is ideal for this job!
- Add the sugar and lemon juice. Stir over a low heat until all of the sugar is dissolved.
- Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a rolling boil until it is about 105°C/ 220°F, stirring continuously until this point then turn off the heat. You can use a jam thermometer to check this setting temperature. Alternatively you can use the ‘Wrinkle Test’: using a well refrigerated plate, scoop a spoonful of your jam onto it and let it set for a few seconds. Push your finger gently into the jam (it should have cooled down enough on the cold plate to be safe enough to do this) – if it wrinkles its set; if it floods back into where you’ve pushed in your finger, it needs longer on the hob.
- Once your jam is ready let it cool slightly, for about 10 minutes. This will help further thicken the jam.
Step 3 - Filling your jars
You need to fill your jars while the jam is still hot.
- Carefully remove your sterilised jars from the pan or dishwasher, keeping them warm and removing any water. Remember to use tongs or oven gloves for protection.
- Place the jars onto a heat proof surface and place a funnel into your jar.
- Carefully scoop the jam into the funnel/jar and leave about 1cm/ 1/2 inch space between the lid of your jar. A ladle is the perfect job for this.
- Use a non metallic spatula to remove any air bubbles by running it around the inside of the jar (between the food and the jar).
- Wipe the rim of the jar to remove any food debris.
Adding your lids:
- If you are using a Kilner® Preserve Jar, place the discs onto your jars, add the screw top band and tighten.
- If you are using a Kilner® Screw Top Preserve Jar, add the screw top lid and tighten.
- If you are using a Kilner® Clip Top Jar, place the rubber seals onto the top of the jar and close the clips.
Step 4 - Processing your jars of jam
You now need to ‘process’ your jam by placing the sealed jars in a large pan and covering with water. Bring to the boil for 30 minutes.
Leave the water and jars to cool completely before removing. By doing this you are adding extra heat to the jam, which helps form a vacuum seal.
You now need to leave the jars for 24 hours before checking that an airtight seal has formed – here’s how:
- To check the seal of a Kilner® Preserve Jar; press the preserve disc with your finger; if the lid does not move then an airtight seal has formed. If it pops up and down when pressed, an airtight seal hasn’t been formed and you must reprocess your jars (see method above) or eat the jam straight away.
- To check the seal of a Kilner® Clip Top Jar; undo the clip. The lid will not move if an airtight seal has formed - refasten, clip and store. However, if the lid moves, you haven’t formed an airtight seal so you must reprocess your jars (see method above) or eat the jam straight away.
Step 5 - Storing and eating your jam (the best part!)
You can store your jam for 6 months in a cool, dry cupboard.
Once opened, store in the fridge and eat within 2 weeks
Pick Your Own Strawberries in Essex
Through a recent social media poll, one ‘Pick Your Own’ place was recommended to us lots! If you fancy making your jam even more special by picking your own strawberries, here are their details:
Hatfield Broad Oak
Tel: 01279 718777
There’s not only a fab ‘Pick Your Own’ but also a Farm Shop selling local produce, the Tea Barn, a play area, Nature Trail and Maize Maze. Parking available. You can also follow their Facebook page for latest ‘Pick Your Own’ updates. Click here for more details. Always check information before visiting.
So there you have it, easy preserving and scrummy jam – now go and pop that kettle on, grab a scone and taste that delicious jam you’ve just made – enjoy!
To check out the Kilner range click here or visit us in store.
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