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tastes of autumn

Make your own jam!

It is the season of the berries and soft fruits and what better way to celebrate nature than by making some home-made jam to store away to see you through the winter months? Although making jam can be straight-forward MOLLY MAID, the professional housecleaning experts, recommend the following top tips to make your own jam!

  1. Never set out to make huge quantities of jam in one batch as it will take ages for the mixture to come to a boil, which will result in a poorly set jam.
  2. Stoned fruits such as plums or gooseberries, which have tougher skin, need to be simmered in a pan of water prior to the sugar being added as sugar tends to have a hardening effect.
  3. On the flip side, as sugar has a hardening effect, soft fruits such as strawberries and blackberries do well when soaked in sugar first to avoid them disintegrating when being boiled. This way the berries have a better chance of staying whole in the finished jam.
  4. Ensure that sugar is totally dissolved before the jam reaches the boil, otherwise it will be difficult to set and the finished jam will be sugary. A good way to check if the sugar is dissolved is to dip a wooden spoon into the mixture and if no sugar crystals can be seen on the back of the spoon, it is ready!
  5. The best ‘set’ test: Whilst you begin cooking the fruit, place three or so small side plates in the freezer. As soon as you have boiled the jam for the required time, take the pan off the heat and place a teaspoonful of the mixture on to one of the chilled plates. Allow it to cool in the fridge, then push it with your finger: if a crinkly skin has formed on the jam, then it has set! It if hasn’t, continue to boil for another 5 minutes, then do another test.
  6. Scum rising – don’t be too concerned about this appearing on the surface of your mixture. Wait until the jam is set, then remove from the heat and stir in a small lump of butter, which will help to disperse the scum.
  7. Once set, allow the jam to settle for 15 minutes or so. This is especially important with jam made from whole fruit as it tends to rise to the top when poured into the jar. Then pour into clean, dry, hot jars, filling them as near to the top as possible. Immediately, place a waxed disc over the surface, then seal with a lid. Wipe the jars with a warm, damp cloth.
  8. However tempting it is to finish the task, please don’t put the labels on until the jam is cold as the labels will simply not stick.
  9. The best way to store jam is in a cool, dry and dark place. A damp environment will encourage mould to grow.
  10. If you realise that the jam hasn’t set even after cooling and pouring into your jam jars, don’t despair! Simply juice a small lemon and tip the whole mixture back into the pan and boil again following steps 5-9.

Then enjoy with freshly baked bread, croissant or with scones for afternoon tea! Good luck.