There’s nothing quite like seeing your garden filled with juicy strawberries, blackcurrants, and blackberries just waiting to be picked. Baking your fruit into a cake, serving alongside a dessert, or even sneaking some for a quick snack is even more rewarding when you know you’ve taken the time and care to grow them yourself. Our favourite thing to do post-harvest? Make jam and jellies to keep in the cupboard and give out to loved ones. In this guide to making jam, we’ll help you learn how to create your own jelly and preserves. Just follow our jam recipes and helpful tips below.
Why should I make jam?
Not only delicious, but jam is also an excellent way for fruit and vegetable gardeners to preserve their harvests. You can take the taste of summer with you throughout autumn and winter with a little jam making. Plus, it eliminates food waste by providing an excellent way to use extra or overripe berries. We recommend keeping a small batch on hand to give as gifts to friends and family. After all, who wouldn’t love to receive some homemade jam or chutney?
What equipment will I need?
When learning how to make jam, there are a few absolutely necessary things you’ll need to have on hand before you can begin. These include:
- Sterilised jars and lids to store your jam.
- Labels and a pen to mark each jar with the contents and date.
- A large, heavy-bottomed pan. Choose a wide, deep pan with a heavy bottom that will distribute heat evenly and prevent your jam from burning.
- A wooden spoon or heat-resistant spatula. Crucial to have on hand to stir your jam as it cooks. Avoid using metal spoons, as they can react with the citric acid in lemons, etc. Instead, opt for silicone.
- A chilled plate or saucer. Keeping a chilled plate in the freezer is essential as it helps to test the consistency of your jam.
- A ladle or funnel. This is a must-have when transferring your hot jam from the pan into your jars without causing a mess and getting sticky jam all over your countertops.
- A jam thermometer (optional). Although not strictly a must-have piece of kit, being able to quickly and easily get precise measurements of your jam can come in handy.
How to make strawberry jam
- 1.8kg of homegrown strawberries, hulled
- 1.84kg of jam sugar
- 1 knob of butter
- The juice of 3 lemons
- It’s best to start by sterilising your jars. Do this by washing them in hot, soapy water. Rinse well, place them on a baking tray, and then put them in the oven for 15 minutes at 120oC.
- Wash and drain the strawberries, placing them in a large bowl. Add the sugar and the lemon juice and gently stir. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it sit overnight.
- Place a saucer in the freezer and tip the fruit and juice mixture into a 4.5-litre heavy-based pan.
- Put on the stove and heat gently, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Make sure it does not boil until all the sugar is dissolved!
- Turn up the heat and boil for 4 minutes. Then take the pan off the heat to test for a setting point. Place a spoonful of the jam onto the cold saucer. After a few minutes, gently push the jam with your finger. If the surface wrinkles, your jam is ready. If not, boil for another 2 minutes and then retest.
- Take your jam off the heat and stir in the butter. If the scum doesn’t dissolve, skim through the jam with a slotted spoon. Once this is done, leave it to cool for 15 minutes. If you pot your jam when it’s still too hot, all the fruit will rise to the top.
- Stir to distribute the fruit and pour into warm, sterilised jars. Place wax discs on right away and cover with a lid, making sure you have a tight seal. Then seal, label and wipe down the jars. These finished jams will last for up to 6 months when stored in a cool, dry cupboard.
How to make raspberry jam
- 1kg of raspberries
- 1kg of jam sugar
- The juice of 1 lemon
- Once again, sterilise your jars and lids in hot, soapy water. Rinse and place on a baking tray in the oven for 15 minutes at 120oC.
- Wash your raspberries gently in a colander, removing any stems or leaves.
- Place half of the fresh fruit into a preserving pan along with the lemon juice. Then, mash up the berries using a fork or potato masher until they become fruit pulp.
- Leave to cook on the stove for 5 minutes. Then tip the cooked berries into a sieve, place over a bowl and work them through the sieve until you’re left with the seeds.
- Place the fruit juice and pulp that landed in the bowl back into the pan and stir in the sugar. Gently heat at a low temperature and then add in the whole raspberries.
- Bring to a boil for 5 minutes and then remove from the heat and test your jam using your chilled plate. Place a spoonful of jam on the plate, and if when you push your finger through it, you see wrinkles, it’s ready. If not, heat for a further 2 minutes and test again.
- Leave your jam to cool and give it a final stir. Then simply pour into your jars and seal the screw top tightly. Label with the contents and date. This jam should keep up to a year. When opened, remember to keep it in the fridge.
How to make marmalade
- 1kg of oranges (Seville oranges if possible)
- 2kg of jam sugar
- The juice of 1 lemon
- Wash and scrub the oranges to remove their wax, then place them in a large saucepan and fill with water. Allow them to simmer on the stove until the skin is soft and can be easily pierced with a fork. This may take 1-2 hours.
- Remove the fruit from the saucepan but save the water. Once it has cooled, slice the oranges into quarters and cut them into thin strips. We recommend doing this on a plate to catch all the juice (you’ll use this later).
- Remove the pips from the oranges and place them on a piece of muslin. Tie this muslin into a bag and a long piece of string. It should be long enough to be secured at the side of your saucepan while also allowing your bag to rest at the bottom of the pan.
- Return the liquid back to the stove and add the bag of muslin, ensuring it is tied well to the handle. Add the lemon juice and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Remove the bag of pips, then add the chopped fruit and the remaining juice. Continue to boil until the liquid is reduced by a third.
- Slowly add the sugar, stirring until it has dissolved. Increase the heat on the stove and boil rapidly for around 20 minutes or until the setting point has been reached.
- Test the setting point by removing your plate from the freezer, dropping a dollop of marmalade onto the plate, and running your finger through. If it wrinkles, it’s ready.
- Allow it to cool, give a final stir and distribute it into your jars, taking care to label them correctly.
We hope we’ve inspired you to give learning how to make your own jam a go. If you don’t currently have any berries planted in your garden, check out our online shop to help you get started. Plus, if you’re curious to learn more ways to make your garden great, pop over to our knowledge hub. Please don’t hesitate to share your own recipes with us on social media (@gardeningexpress). We would love to hear from you!