If you have received one or more fruit hampers and you’re not sure what to do with all that fruit before it starts going bad, you can always make jam! Sure, not every fruit can be used for jam, but you can at least minimize the amount that you will have to hurry to eat, freeze or preserve in other ways. Unlike the canned variety that you by, making your own jam means that you will not add any preservatives and it will be a far more natural treat for yourself and your loved ones to enjoy. Not sure where to start? Here are some essential tips to keep in mind if this is your first attempt.
Choose your fruit
Before you make jam, you will need to choose your fruit. There are a number of delicious options out there so, take a moment to think about the jams that you usually buy from your local supermarket. Peach, fig, strawberry, mixed berry and other jams are all very popular. It is also important to make sure that you select fruit that is very ripe but has not yet started to spoil. It can be a very fine line between extra ripe and the beginning of decomposition so take your time inspecting each fruit. If you notice that a part of the fruit isn’t looking too good, simply cut it out and use the rest of the fruit if it isn’t showing any signs of decay.
When you make jam, you will need to add sugar. Not only does it give your jam its sweet taste, but it also acts as a natural preservative. So, instead of adding all sorts of chemicals to your jam, you can enjoy a natural alternative. In general, the jams you buy will contain more sugar than fruit. However, if you plan on eating or using your jam in recipes fairly soon, you can use less sugar. In other words, for 60% fruit, you want to add 40% sugar. If you use 6kg of fruit, you will need 4kg of sugar. While the jam will have a shorter shelf life, it will be lower in sugar and calories.
Prepare your jars
When you make jam, you will need to boil it for quite some time. During this time, you should prepare your jars. They will need to be sterilized with hot water and you will need to do the same for the lids. The key to sterilizing jars without them cracking is to wash them in very warm water first. Use dishwashing soap and make sure that you rinse them thoroughly with very warm water afterwards. Once this is done, you can add boiling water to the jars without worrying about them cracking. If you add hot water to cold jars, it causes rapid expansion and this causes them to crack. Allow the jars and lids to rest in hot water for about 5 minutes before removing them and allowing them to dry.
Once your jam is ready, you will need to pour it into your jars. Remember, your jam will be a bit more on the liquid side when it is hot and this is perfectly normal. It will continue to thicken as it chills. If you pour your jam into the jars while it is hot, remember to gently warm the jars first. You can do this by adding warm water to your sink and gradually adding boiling water to make the water even hotter. This will prevent the jars from cracking when you add the very warm or hot jam. Do not fill the jars to the brim. You want to leave some space between the jam and the lid. Place the lid on while the jam is hot and allow to cool before storing in a cool, dry place. Once opened, you will need to refrigerate your jam. Unopened, each jar can last up to 12 months. Once opened, it should be consumed within a couple of weeks.
Now that you know all the tips and tricks, you will be able to make jam like a pro! You and your loved ones may even enjoy your jam so much that they will be reluctant to eat the store bought variety ever again.