- Making Jam and jelly
- Strawberry jam
- Raspberry jam
- Plum and damson jam
- Plum and mulled wine jam
- Damson jam
- Redcurrant jelly
- Blackberry jelly
- Strawberry conserve
- Chilli jelly
Remember that hot jam or jelly is VERY hot (much hotter than boiling water), especially when the sugar has been added. Make sure it is out of reach or children and don’t be tempted to stick your finger in to taste it! If you are planning on making a lot of jams and jellies, it is probably worth your while investing in some proper equipment.
When potting up jams and jellies, always use hot sterilised jars and place them on a wooden or other non-conducting surface. Adding hot jam or jelly to cold jars, or to jars sitting on a cold surface runs the risk of the jars splitting and causing serious burns – as well as wasting the precious preserve.
You can use a large saucepan but, a preserving pan provides the best shape for water to boil off quickly, thus reducing the chance of you preserve ‘catching’ and burning. A sugar thermometer helps to tell you when the setting point has been reached which removes the doubt from the ‘testing-on-a-plate’ method. Although, I always use the latter – when you think the jam/jelly has reduced significantly and you feel might be approaching ‘setting’, put a dessertspoonful on a plate or saucer and put in a cool place (not the fridge). If setting point has been reached the preserve will wrinkle up when pushed gently with a spoon or the tip of your finger.
You can make your own jelly bag from heavy muslin, cotton calico or other similar fabrics. Make sure the fabric is well scalded before adding the juice and that it is safely secured to a ‘stand’ (upside down stool perhaps – perhaps you are handy with wood and can make your own) before pouring in the boiled fruit pulp. However, you can buy the jelly bags and stands ready made. If you choose to do so, buy one which is sturdy and safe.
The quantities I have given in the following recipes give a fairly high concentration of sugar. You can reduce the amount of sugar in jams and jellies to suit your taste. However, the less sugar in the preserve, the less likely it is to keep well. If you choose to do this, you can store the fruit in the freezer until you are going to make your preserve then, use quickly. Or you can store the preserve in the fridge for a few weeks.
- 2kg ( 4lb) strawberries
- 1¾ kg ( 3½ lb) sugar
- Juice of half a lemon
1. Hull the strawberries and wash only if really necessary ( it is important that no more liquid is added to the fruit).
2. Put the strawberries into the preserving pan with the lemon juice and heat very slowly until the fruit is really soft and has released much of its juice. ( 20 minutes or so).
3. Add the sugar and stir over a gentle heat until you are sure that all the sugar has dissolved.
4. Bring it to the boil and boil briskly until setting point is reached – test a little on a saucer or use a sugar thermometer.
5. Leave the jam in the pan for 10 – 15 minutes until it has cooled slightly. (when it has cooled slightly the setting process has started and this prevents the fruit rising to the top.
6. Heat sterilised jam pots then place them on a wooden surface to pot the jam.
7. Pot up the jam, cover and label.
( my personal preference is for the jam to be only lightly set, I think it has a better flavour.)
recipe by Marjorie McCartney©
- 3kg (6lb) raspberries
- 3kg ( 6lb) sugar
Lots of recipes will suggest you use preserving sugar. This is not necessary and it is more expensive. Ordinary household granulated sugar is fine.
1. Avoid washing the fruit. If any of the raspberries are dirty, mouldy or in poor condition, discard them. Remove any stalks, hulls or pieces of leaves.
2. Put the raspberries into a preserving pan and heat gently until the juice starts to come out of the fruit, then simmer gently until all the fruit is soft and broken down.
3. Add the sugar and heat very slowly until all of the sugar has dissolved – keep stirring to ensure the sugar doesn’t stick..
4. Bring the jam to the boil and boil briskly until setting point is reached – make sure the jam doesn’t stick to the bottom of the preserving pan.
5. Heat the sterilised jars in a warm oven and place them on a wooden board or other non-conducting surface.
6. Pot the jam and cover immediately. Label.
– Recipe by Marjorie McCartney©
- 2.7 kg (6lb) plums
- 2.7 kg (6lb) sugar
- 900 ml (1.5 pints) water
• Wash the plums then cut in half and remove the stones.
• Put the plums and water into a preserving and cook over a low heat until the fruit is really soft and the liquid reduced – about 30 minutes.
• Add the sugar and stir over a low heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a rolling boil and boil until setting point is reached.
• Pot up in hot sterilised jars. Cover and label.
Try this recipe from ‘The Best-kept Secrets of the Women’s Institute: Jams, Pickles & Chutneys’ by Midge Thomas –
- 1.8 kg (4lb) red plums, halved and stoned
- ½ bottle red wine (whatever is cheap or on offer)
- mulled wine spices, eg. cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves or your own choice
- piece of orange zest without the pith
- 1.8 kg (4lb) sugar
• Put the prepared plums and wine into a preserving pan.
• Place the spices and zest in a spice ball or muslin bag and add to the pan. Cook gently for 15 – 20 minutes or until the skins are soft.
• Remove the spice ball or bag and add the sugar, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for about 10 minutes or until setting point is reached. Remove any scum.
• Pot into sterilised jars, cover and label.
(while this recipe specifies red plums, it should work just as well with any variety)
Like greengages, damsons are a member of the plum family and damsons are mostly ready to harvest now. The jam is made in a similar way though it would be much too time consuming to remove the stones in the same way as for plum jam.
- 1.35kg (3lb) damsons
- 1.35kg (3lb) sugar
- 500ml (1 pt) water
• Wash the damsons and remove any stalks or leaves.
• Put them, with the water, into a preserving pan and simmer gently until the fruit is really soft and the stones start to release from the fruit – about 30 minutes. Squash the fruit against the side of the pan to help push the stones out. Remove any stones which rise to the surface.
• Add the sugar and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved.
• Bring to the boil then boil rapidly until setting point is reached. During the boiling, the stones will rise to the surface of the jam and you should be able to remove most of them. (If you wish to remove all of them pour the jam into a colander or coarse sieve and push it through. This will also remove the skins and give you a smoother jam. However, I prefer my jam with the ‘bits’ in and am happy to remove the odd stone when I am eating the jam. )
• Pot up in hot sterilised pots, seal and label.
– Recipe by Marjorie McCartney©
There are many recipes for strawberry conserve and all saying much the same thing. This particular one is from ‘Allotment Growing Recipes’ – www.allotment.org.uk
- 2lb (1kg) small strawberries or halved, hulled larger strawberries
- 2lb (1kg) granulated sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon (or 2 Tblsp bottled lemon juice)
• Place alternate layers of strawberries and sugar into a bowl.
• Add the lemon juice, cover and leave to stand overnight – 12 hours.
• Next day, transfer the fruit and the sugar to a pan, bring slowly to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
• Pour back into the bowl, cover and leave again for another day.
• Finally, transfer to a pan, bring to the boil and simmer until setting point is reached.
• Remove from the heat and leave to cool a little (until the fruit begins to sink in the syrup).
• Stir and pour into small, hot, sterilised jars and cover immediately. Label.
One of my favourite accompaniments for roast lamb particularly, though really for any roast meat or game, and can happily replace cranberry sauce with the traditional roast turkey at Christmas.
I have just 1 redcurrant bush, but is a champion. It will easily give me three kilos in a season, plus some. As I inherited it on my plot, I am, unfortunately, unable to say what variety it is. I have pruned and manured it heavily since discovering it under a dense overgrowth of brambles.
- 3 kg (6lb) redcurrants – actually it doesn’t really matter how much you have, the amount of sugar added will depend on the amount of juice extracted.
1. Wash the fruit and remove any leaves or bits of twig. You can leave the stalks in. Put them in a preserving pan.
2. Heat very gently to draw the juice from the fruit, then simmer slowly until the fruit has been totally softened or turned to pulp.
3. Strain through a scalded jelly bag. Leave it overnight to ensure all the juice has been extracted. Don’t be tempted to squeeze the bag, you will make your jelly cloudy for little extra juice.
4. Measure the juice and add approx. 1kg sugar for every litre of juice (1lb for every pint).
5. Return the juice and the sugar to a clean preserving pan and heat slowly until all the sugar has dissolved. Stir frequently to ensure the sugar doesn’t stick.
6. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly until setting point is reached.
7. Skim to remove any froth from the top of the jelly or add a small knob of butter and stir in rapidly (this should remove any froth from the top of the jelly).
8. Pot up in small, hot, sterilised jars. Cover immediately and label.
recipe by Marjorie McCartney©
- Blackberries (the amount is, up-to-a point irrelevant, they must fit easily into your preserving pan)
- Perhaps a little water to start the juicing process – ¼ – ½ litre if needed- depending on the amount of fruit..
- Lemon juice
- Sugar – depending on the amount of juice
- A knob of butter
1. Pick over the fruit to remove any leaves, etc.
2. Put in the preserving and over a very low heat, simmer gently until the fruit has broken down and is totally tender, (with the water if you feel it is necessary).
3. Strain though a jelly strainer.
4. Measure the amount of juice.
5. Allow 1 kilo (lb) sugar for each litre of juice (pt) – don’t mix up the quantities from metric and imperial measurement.
6. Put the fruit juice and the sugar into the preserving pan over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the lemon juice.
7. Bring to the boil in a preserving pan or a large saucepan to allow the preserve to come to a rolling boil.
8. When setting point has been reached, add the knob of butter and mix in well to reduce the amount of foam on the top of the preserve.
9. Pot, cover and label.
– Recipe by Marjorie McCartney©
For the basic jelly – day one
- 4lb fruit [ cooking apples, slightly unripe gooseberries]
- 4 pints [ 1200ml] water
- 1 cube [2cm – or 1 inch] ginger root sliced thinly
- ½pt cider vinegar
- For the spicy bit – day 2
- Sugar – see below
- 3 chillies (Fresh or dried) finely chopped for each pint of juice (leave the seeds in for very hot)
- 1 clove of garlic finely chopped for each pint of juice.
• Wash the fruit and remove any leaves or stalks – no need to remove cores.
• Put the fruit, ginger and water into a preserving pan and gradually bring to the boil.
• Simmer gently until all the fruit is well soft (about 1 hour)
• Add the cider vinegar
• Allow it to cool slightly then, put through a scalded jelly bag and leave overnight to allow the juice to strain.
• Next morning, carefully measure the juice and return it to a clean preserving pan – allow 450gm [1 lb] sugar to each 570ml [1pint] juice.
• Add the sugar to the juice in the pan and bring it to the boil stirring frequently to ensure all the sugar has dissolved.
• Boil rapidly until setting point is reached [use a sugar thermometer or when you feel you are getting close to the setting point, put a spoonful of the juice onto a saucer and place in a cool place – in a fairly short time, 1 min or so, when pushed by a finger, the jelly should wrinkle obviously].
• Add the chopped chillies & garlic.
• Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly
• If you wish, at this time you can add well washed and dried herbs [finely chopped mint, rosemary, ginger or thyme].
• Freshly chopped herbs have a tendency to rise to the surface. You might want to wait a short time before the jelly sets and stir it to ensure the herbs are mixed in well.
• Allow to cool slightly then pour into sterilised, warmed pots and seal immediately.