I had promised to post this a while ago, but then I forgot! Jam making actually is very easy. For some reason, I had this idea that it was an all day process and took forever. It really doesn’t. You don’t need a lot of special equipment. Once you get a few things, you are set for making jam. Most stores will carry a jam making kit with the basic tools that just make life easier. I got a kit for $15 that included this stuff:
I don’t actually use all of these and forgot to include the jar lifter, which I will show later. I really only use the funnel, the little magnet tool, and the tongs.
The only other thing you need to purchase initially are the jars and lids. Unless you give all your jam away, then you need to get more jars. After that, you only need to get the sealing disks because you can reuse the jars and rings over and over. The sealing disks are only good once.
Now, you can certainly do sugar free jams and jellies, but I don’t bother with that as I don’t go overboard eating the jam. The flavors are pretty intense, so a spoonful is all I usually have on something like oats. You also don’t need to use pectin when making jam, but I do because you can’t mess it up. There are several different kinds of pectin out there and you just want to purchase one based on what you want to make. There are freezer jams, lower sugar jams, plain old pectin. I happen to like Sure-Jel. This stuff always works for me.
The nice thing is that this contains recipes and directions for all kinds of different fruits.
On the counter, lay out a dishtowel or two. I use this as a jar filling station to keep from breaking a jar on the counter if it slips. You will also need a paper towel.
While this comes to a boil and then proceeds to boil away, I prepare the fruit. You need another saucepan for cooking. This jam is apricot ginger.
- 6 cups chopped fruit (or 3-1/2 lb whole apricots)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 4-1/2 cups of sugar (with 1/4 cup of that set aside)
- 1 ounce of finely chopped crystallized ginger
- 1 box of pectin
Truth be told here, I cut the recipe in half, even though you aren’t supposed to. I weighed out the pectin to make sure I had half a box.
You can peel them or not – your preference. You do need to get the stone pit out and cut into cubes.
Toss the cubes into your pot. I also decided that some ginger would be a good addition to this, so I minced some crystallized ginger (about an ounce) and added it.
In a small bowl, mix the 1/4 cup of sugar with your pectin, then add to the pot.
Bring this to a boil. Yep, you will cook it with no liquid. The fruit will make it’s own liquid. It takes a while, and you want to stir a lot to keep it from burning. I also will use a potato masher to make a more even consistency, but you don’t want a puree.
Side step here. At this time, I will remove the jars and rings and put them on the towel to dry out. Turn the heat off on this so the water is not boiling any more. Then add the sealing disks to this hot water. You don’t want to boil the sealing disks until they are actually on the jar or you will ruin the seal.
Once the fruit mixture comes to a rolling boil – which means it continues to boil even if you stir it – then add the rest of the sugar (4-1/4 cups). Stir constantly and bring back to a rolling boil. When it hits a rolling boil, turn the timer on for 1 minute and cook, stirring constantly. Then remove from the heat.
Now you are ready to ladle into the jars. Use the jar funnel – very handy. You don’t need the jar funnel, but it really keeps the jars clean and makes filling quick and easy. Ladle in the jam until it reaches the bottom of the funnel, which also happens to be right where the ring ridge is on the jar. Pretty neat how that works out. Do not fill the jars more than this. You need head room to make a seal.
Once you have filled all of your jars, dampen the edge of the paper towel and run it around the edge of the jars to make sure there is no jam on them.
Now using the little magnet tool, snag a sealing disk from the hot water.
Then lay it on the top of the jar.
See how handy that is? You keep things nice and clean by not touching the lids with your fingers. Clean as they may be, best to be safe.
Turn the heat back on for the water to bring it back to a boil. Now you will put a ring on each jar. Do not forget to put the rings on the jars! The jars are hot, so use a hot mitt or something – unless you have hands made of silicone. You just need to hand tighten the rings, not really crank them on there.
Now use the jar lifting tool (the one I forgot the picture of) and use it to lift the jar and place it into the boiling water.
When all the jars are in the pot, boil for 10 minutes (unless you are at altitude, then it is 12, I think? Check the instructions).
Remove using the jar lifter and set all jars back on the towel. As the jars cool, you will hear a little pop of the vacuum seal happening. Let the jars cool completely and label them.
– Make sure you have 2 inches of room over your jars with water in the pot.
– I like to put a trivet into the bottom of the pot to keep the jars from bouncing around as the water boils.
– You will likely end up with a jar that is not completely full. Do not waste a sealing disk on this jar as you can’t seal it properly. Just refrigerate this and eat it first!
– You can test the seal on your jars after they have cooled by pressing your finger into the center of the lid. If it pops up and down – there is no seal and you need to eat that jar right away.