Jam is one of those things that can seem way more complicated to make than it really is. However, this recipe for a simple jam can be adapted to use whatever you have (I used fruits growing in my garden and allotment, but frozen or in-season fruit can be used). The key thing is to make sure your fruit/sugar ratio is maintained- so if you only have 250g of fruit, use 250g of sugar and so on. I also collect jars throughout the year. You'll be surprised at how pleased people are to pass their jars onto you, although you might need to give them a jar of jam in return!
Ingredients- makes about five jars
500g fruit (I used a mixture of blackberries, raspberries, cherries, plums and blueberries. You could buy a bag of frozen mixed berries, or include some peeled and chopped apple, which would help the set- it's really up to you!)
500g jam or preserving sugar
Juice of one lemon
1) Sterilise your jars- wash in warm soapy water and rinse. Once clean and dry, pop on a baking tray and place in the oven at 100 degrees. Keep the jars in here until you're ready to use them, as otherwise your jars might crack when the jam is poured into them. Put two clean plates in the freezer, as you will use these to check when your jam is ready.
2) Put the sugar and fruit in a large pan. Squeeze the lemon juice in (pro tip: I use a tea strainer to collect any pips when I'm squeezing a lemon!). Gently heat until the sugar has melted, stirring throughout with a wooden spoon.
3) When the sugar has become liquid, bring the jam up to a rapid boil. After five minutes, take the jam off the heat and, once it's stopped bubbling, spoon a small amount onto one of the plates from the freezer. Let this cool a little and then run your finger through the drop. If it wrinkles, you have jam! If it doesn't, begin to boil again, testing every two minutes until you have the set.
4) Once your jam is at setting point, let it cool down a bit and then begin to pour into the jars. This can get quite messy! You might want to cover the surface with greaseproof paper or cling film so you can clear up easily. I also use a silicone jam funnel, which helps. As soon as each jar is full (leave some room at the top), put a waxed disc on the surface of the jam. I'm never 100% sure these are needed if you're using a lid, but I still do it to be on the safe side! Make sure your lids are tightly on the jar and then store. Kept in a dark cupboard, they should keep for about a year. Once opened, keep the jam in the fridge and eat within six weeks.
If you do make jam, let us know how it went!
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