Carolyn's Jam

Ingredients:

  • 1kg fruit
  • 1kg jam sugar – I prefer to use one with added pectin
  • Pectin (especially for strawberry jam) - 1 sachet (7g for strawberry) less for raspberry and other jams
  • Juice of 2 lemon
  • Small knob of butter

I am a terror for cooking to my own instinct, rather than following a recipe exactly. Thankfully for most things it works, and so this recipe for jam is one such recipe that comes pretty much from my head and none of the quantities need to be precise. However, you may prefer to generate your own level of precision!

Additionally, my family prefers fairley soft jam to solid jam on their bread and toast and so this recipe errs that way. You can, however, cook it rather more than I do to get a firmer set.

I work on the basis of approximately 1:1 for fruit to sugar, a little variance either way does not hurt.

Before you start heating your jam up you will need to prepare your jars. They must be clean and then heated in the oven (100 degrees-ish) to sterilise them. Have them hot for filling, to reduce the chance of one splitting due to the heat of the jam.

Put a saucer into the freezer for later so that you can test whether the jam will set sufficiently for you.

Put your (chopped if strawberry) fruit and lemon juice into a large heavy duty pan with a knob of butter (or similar for non dairy eaters).
Fruits such as gooseberry and blueberry need a mash with a potato masher or even a quick ‘whizz’ with a hand mixer / wand mixer to break their skins.

Add the sugar, stir and leave for a while until the sugar looks to have pretty much started dissolving and there is some juice in the bottom of the pan. This is not necessary but makes the heating up a little quicker as you already have liquid in the bottom.

Put onto a low heat and keep stirring as the mixture warms through and the sugar dissolves.

Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring all the time.
Once boiling start your timer for guidance and simmer gently as a rolling boil for several minutes.
It is essential that you keep stirring so that the mixture does not bubble up and spill over the cooker (a nightmare to clean up!).
Once it has boiled for a few minutes the liquid settles and tends to bubble up less.
For strawberry jam I boil for around 12-14 minutes, raspberry about 9, and for some fruits maybe only about 7 such as gooseberry or blueberry mixes. For the practised jam maker there is a moment where it begins to look and feel 'thicker' which is a helpful sign.

Take your frozen saucer from the freezer (having turned the heat down, and after your brew has stopped behaving like a volcano) after a several minutes of simmering and drop a little of the jam onto it. Move the saucer about to get the jam to spread out a little. Within a few moments the jam should set a little and form a skin. I tend to push it about and if the consistency is what I like then thats it and the jam is ready to be put into jars.

If it does not set enough for you turn the heat on again and continue to simmer for a little longer and try the saucer test again.

Once your jam is cooked enough take it off the heat and once it has stopped bubbling stir to clear any froth etc from the surface.

Carefully put an inch or so of jam into each jar and then gradually top them up to near the top of the jar.

Put a waxed disc onto the surface of the jam and then cover with paper lids or screw tops. Leave to cool.

Once opened I store my jam in the fridge as this helps the solidity of it!

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