A deliciously fruity jam adds a special touch to toast or scones. And when it is homemade, it tastes even better! But how do you prepare this sweet fruit spread at home? We will show you how to easily turn fresh fruit into jam and give you useful knowledge about this classic fruity treat.
Jam or jelly?
Jam is made from fresh fruit, such as strawberries, raspberries, plums and oranges, along with sweeteners. If it is made from fruit juice rather than fruit, then it is called jelly. This contains no fruit pieces.
Which fruits are suitable?
Basically, you can cook what your heart desires. There are only two things to consider. First, whatever fruit you choose, it has to be ripe. Second, know the pectin content of the fruit, because it affects how well the jam gels. Pectin is a fruit fiber and a natural gelling agent. In the case of fruits with a low pectin content – such as strawberries, cherries or rhubarb – additional pectin must be added. Fruits with a high pectin content – such as apples, red currants, quinces or citrus fruits – the jam binds itself during cooking.
How to cook - step by step
Let’s start with a classic: cherry jam.
1. First, boil the canning jars and lids to sterilize. Dry on a dishcloth.
2. Wash, stone and halve 4 cups of cherries.
3. Mix with 2 1/2 cups (500 grams) of preserving sugar (2:1) and 5 tablespoons of lemon juice. You can use preserving sugar, also called gelling sugar – or use regular sugar in combination with agar or pectin for binding.
4. Let it rest for two hours.
5. If you prefer your jam without large pieces of fruit, you can puree in a blender.
6. Now boil the cherries until they start to bubble. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. If foam forms during cooking, scoop this away.
7. After 4 minutes, check for the right consistency by adding a little hot jam to a plate. If it sticks to the plate and runs down slowly, it's done.
8. Remove pot from heat and stir.
9. Pour hot jam into sterilized jars, cap and turn upside down for a few minutes.
The mix does it
For fruits with a high pectin content, regular sugar can be used for the fruit spread. Then simply boil with a little lemon juice until the jam gels by itself.
However, if you use fruits that require the addition of gelling agent, you should pay attention to the relationship between fruit and sugar for gelling sugar.
- For 1:1, use equal amounts of gelling sugar and fruit.
- If the indication is 2:1 or 3:1 on the package, either two or three parts of fruit can be boiled with one part of sugar, because the gelling sugar has a higher percentage of pectin. This enhances fruit flavor.
Instead of white sugar, alternative sweeteners can also be used. Variants with agave syrup or grated apple are possible.
And if it goes wrong?
Here’s what to do if your jam does not have the right consistency:
1. If the jam is too cold when chilled, add a grated apple, or a teaspoon of agar or some lemon juice as a natural thickener.
2. If the jam is too firm, simply add some water and boil again.
The right storage
Store your finished jam somewhere cool, dry and dark. Once you open the jar, store in the fridge and enjoy! If you choose to freeze jam, use it within a year.
Image: ©los_angela / iStock;baibaz / iStock