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Jam Making Principles: Four Easy Steps to Make Your Own Jam

Follow these four steps for almost every jam you make

  1. Choose your fruit. wash and shred
  2. Boil the fruit in a little running water until soft.
  3. When soft and cooked, add sugar and pectin, mix. Then add lemon juice or cream of tartar.
  4. Bring to a quick boil at 220°F (104°C) and you’re good to go. (about 20 minutes)

A generic jam recipe

1 kg of clean crushed fruit 2.2lb + 125g of water (1/2 cup)

1 kg of sugar 2.2 pounds

30g lime juice, lemon juice (OR 2 tsp cream of tartar)

10 g pectin powder (2 teaspoons)

frequent questions

What is the difference between jam and jelly?

Jam is a chunky fruit or thick fruit puree that has been ‘set’ by boiling with sugar. Jelly is a clear fruit juice that has been ‘fixed’ by boiling it with sugar.

Why is the jam established?

When the fruit is boiled with water, it collapses and any pectin in the fruit is released. When sugar and an acid (such as lemon juice) are cooked with fruit, they react with the pectin in the fruit to form a jelly. Most jam fruits are naturally high in pectin. If you use a fruit without much natural pectin, you should add apple seed, orange peel, or pectin extract to get the same result.

Why did my jam run away?

Undercooked (not at 104-105°C). Not enough pectin, not enough acid, or not enough sugar. Fruit does not freeze easily (eg pineapple)

Why is my jam too thick?

Overcooked or too much pectin

What kind of pot do I need?

Bigger is better. Use a wide-bottomed pot with a heavy bottom that has even heat distribution.

The 4 things you need to make jam

  1. Fruit
  2. Sugar
  3. pectin
  4. acid

about the fruit

Some fruits contain a lot of pectin and are easily made into jam. Pectin is a natural substance. Apples and citrus fruits are very rich in pectin. If the fruit you are using has a lot of pectin, you do not need to add additional pectin. If the fruit you are using is low in pectin, you should add pectin powder, OR add a fruit that is high in pectin, such as apple, apple seeds, or citrus peel.

about the sugar

Jam has a high sugar content. Expect an average amount of around 50% fruit and 50% sugar. The sugar and acid preserve the fruit and provide texture. It is possible to make low-sugar jam and sugar-free jam. Do a Google search for those recipes.

About pectin

Pectin is a natural ‘polysaccharide’. When boiled with sugar and an acid such as lemon juice, it forms a “gel”. Many fruits naturally contain a lot of pectin. The fruit has more pectin when it is not ripe and less when it is fully ripe. Powdered pectin extract is commercially available. These are made from orange and lemon skins, or apple seeds.

on the acid

Lemon juice, lime juice, or cream of tartar (tartaric acid) are common choices. Pectin must be cooked with sugar and acid to form a jam or gel.

A quick list of high pectin fruits:

  • Orange peel, lemon peel, grapefruit peel, lime peel.
  • Raspberries, currants, blackberries, blueberries
  • Apples, grapes, plums

When the above high pectin fruits are used, no added pectin is needed. They have enough of course.

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