Jam making time – two recipes to reflect the fruit situation

We were struggling to eat the blackcurrants off the bush (I only tend to like them on my cereal in a morning). Then I remembered making jam about 5 years ago when we had a big garden and a glut of fruit. It was fun and had a good end result. I found a really nice recipe online and gave it a go.

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As you can see it was a success and I got 4 jars of tasty jam and a partly-filled ramekin too.

I then wanted to produce a mixed jam of blackcurrant and strawberry as I had just enough blackcurrants to make some jam, if I added something else – and we had a number of strawberry bushes working well for us 🙂

So I trawled the web for an appropriate recipe but couldn’t find one. I found one or two which could be adapted and combined them to craft my own version (taking the bits I liked from each one). I know cooking is a science and changing the balance of ingredients can be dodgy, but what the heck I thought – let’s give it a go!
And here’s the recipe I worked to…

Strawberry and blackcurrant jam

Cooking time:
Approx 30 minutes. Makes 1 jar

Ingredients:
100 gm strawberries
233 gm blackcurrants
500 gm sugar
200 ml water

Cooking instructions:
Place a saucer into the freezer to chill (to test the setting point of the jam). Sterilise the jam jars – wash the jars in soapy water and rinse in clean warm water. Allow them to drip-dry, upside down, on a rack in the oven set to 140C/275F/Gas 1. Leave them there for at least half an hour while you make the jam.
Soak strawberries in sugar
Put blackcurrants into pan with water
Bring to simmer
Simmer for 15-20 minutes
Add strawberries and sugar, dissolve sugar on low heat
When sugar is dissolved, bring to boil, boil on rolling boil for 5 minutes
Remove from heat and stir to start cooling process
Test to see if set on a cold saucer
Stand for 10-15 minutes
Pour into hot sterilised jars, seal and allow to cool

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It worked! The jam tasted really nice and the quantities were more or less correct for making one jar. A bonus being the reduced risk of jam boiling over, due to making a smaller quantity.

I expect you’ll want the second recipe that I promised. It’s still a bit of an experiment but, here it is

Strawberry jam
I went for a different recipe for the strawberry jam, because while I was researching the mixed jam above I discovered the strawberries are low in pectin (so you need to add lemon juice) and are so soft that they need to be hardened off a bit before making the jam (so you need to soak them in sugar before you make jam with them).

Cooking time:
Approx 30 minutes. Makes 1 jar

Ingredients:
500 gm strawberries
500 gm sugar
1/2 lemon (juice of)
Knob butter (only if scum forms)

Cooking instructions:
The day before you wish to make the jam, hull the strawberries and wipe each one with dampened kitchen paper. Use slightly under-ripe strawberries and discard any that are bruised or overripe. Layer the strawberries into a large bowl with the sugar. Turn carefully to mix and coat well, then cover with lid (or cling film) and leave the fruit to soak in the sugar overnight, giving everything a stir around before bed.
The next day, place a saucer into the freezer to chill (to test the setting point of the jam). Sterilise the jam jars – wash the jars in soapy water and rinse in clean warm water. Allow them to drip-dry, upside down, on a rack in the oven set to 140C/275F/Gas 1. Leave them there for at least half an hour while you make the jam.
Pour the strawberries, their juice and any residual sugary juices into a very large pan or preserving pan, remembering that the mixture will rise as it boils, and add the lemon juice.
Give the pan a shake from time to time, only giving very gentle stirs, to avoid breaking the fruit up, until the sugar has completely dissolved. To check the sugar is dissolved, coat the back of the spoon with the juice and check no crystals are visible. When the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up to its highest setting, bring the strawberries up to the boil then boil hard until the jam reaches setting point (about 8 minutes).
When the 8 minutes is up, remove pan from the heat, put a teaspoonful on the chilled saucer and allow it to cool completely. Then push the mixture with your finger, if it begins to wrinkle and sit up proudly without any liquid running out, the preserve is set. If it slides about as a liquid, then it hasn’t reached setting point and should be returned to the heat and boiled for 3 more minutes before testing again and so on until the preserve is set.
Let the jam cool and thicken in the pan for 10-15 minutes, so that the strawberries don’t all sink to the bottom in the jars. If there is any scum gently stir in a small piece of butter to disperse it.
Carefully remove the sterilised jars from the oven with oven gloves – try to avoid touching the insides of the jars with the oven gloves, which might introduce unwelcome bacteria. Stir the jam, then ladle it into the sterilised jars. Use a jam funnel, if you have one, to avoid spilling too much jam.
Cover the top surface of the jam in each jar with waxed paper discs that have been cut to size – they should cover the entire surface of the jam. Press the wax disc down to create a complete seal.
Cover with a lid while still hot, label and store in a cool, dark cupboard for up to a year.

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I did only make half the quantities here – because that was all I had left from the strawberry plants. You could just buy in some fruit if you needed more.

Actually, you’ve had three jam-making recipes with the link at the beginning, so good luck with your own, and don’t be scared to experiment. 😄

I’d love to hear about your own jam-making. Please don’t rely on my recipes for perfect results if you try them. They are only experiments! But if you do try mine, I’d still like to hear how you get on.

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