Jam Making

While here WWOOFing at Wildside Backpackers Lodge in Hari Hari, New Zealand we made some jam. I thought I would make a blog about it since it was easy, and so much fun! Also I have a feeling while many people eat jam, very few probably know how to make it themselves. So, here it goes. First of all you can make jam with pretty much any fruit or berry. The difference between jam and jelly is that with jam you don't strain out any of the seeds, skin or chunky bits and with jelly you do. (Also if you are curious about what marmalade is, it's pretty much the same just with citrus) So jam is chunky and jelly is smooth.

So the first step in making jam is to pick out what kind of fruit or berry you want to use. We did two separate batches, one with Gooseberries and one with Blackcurrants. 

  Every berry requires a different amount of sugar and water needed to be added due to how sweet the berry is. Also, you need to be aware of how much pectin is present in your fruit or berry of choice. Pectin is what allows your jam to thicken. Below is a picture from the book "Jams, Jellies and other Preserves" which was written by University of Otago, 

  a chart with the amounts of pectin and acids in fruits. If you are making jam with something low in pectin you can add an unripe grated apple skin to add more pectin to your batch. Fortunately for us, both Gooseberries and Blackcurrants are high in Pectin so we didn't have to add anything, however both are a tart berry so we had to add a good amount of sugar.

So once you've picked out what berry you want to use you have to get all of the stems off of them. (If you are making jelly you don't have to worry about this because you will strain it out in the end) We found with the blackcurrants it would be better to make jelly with them because of how time consuming de-stemming every single little berry was.

Next you need to put it into a big pot and mash them! You need to make sure that every berry has busted, it's fine if they aren't totally smushed because once they start boiling they will separate but they at least have to all be broken open. 

Then add your water and sugar. We used about 2 kilograms of sugar and 1 cup of water, again the picture below will show you a chart of amounts you can use for different berries.  

  Once you've added everything into your pot you should boil it on high for at least 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  

  Once the jam starts to thicken, you can turn down the heat. You will probably get some white frothy stuff on top, just spoon that off. After about 30 minutes and it starts to get really thick you will need to stir it constantly so it doesn't stick to the pot. Be warned, it will get a little messy!

 If you think it's starting to look like it's the right consistency you can test it by dropping some onto a plate. Wait for it to cool down and then move the plate around and see if it runs. If it holds its place, it's ready!

Lastly, once it's ready, jar it immediately!

Note: If you have a big batch like ours and you are going to be storing the extra jars for a while, you need to sterilize your jars by washing them with hot water and putting them in the oven for about 10 minutes on about 275 degrees. Then fill them up all the way to the top and screw the lid on as tight as you can so that the top pops up and seals after an hour or so. 

And there you have it, you've made your own jam!