The process of preserving food dates back to Paleolithic period, but it’s the Romans that got really creative with the technique of using sugar. Marmalade, jam, compote, jelly, fruit paste and fruit syrup are all basically the same thing, with the only difference being the percentage sugar to fruit, and whether the fruit is blended or not.
I grew up eating All Gold apricot jam that comes in a can. One of my fondest memories is running out of the ocean when on holiday in Mussel Bay, South Africa, and having warm, white toast with butter and apricot jam. I can honestly still taste it to this day.
I’ve always wanted to make my own jam and this autumn I decided to just jump in and do it. The markets are packed with plums of all varietals, but I chose the Blackamber. Not too sweet, with a deep burgundy skin and light-yellow flesh.
Making jam takes a bit time and planning but is actually quite straight forward. It’s the jarring that is a bit finicky.
Make sure you have the following ready before you begin:
– pint size mason jars
– the biggest pot you have
– a long wooden spoon
– a glass measuring jug for pouring the jam into the jars
– oven mittens or thick dish towels for handling the hot jars
1 lbs x Blackamber plums (or peaches, strawberries, blackberries, etc.)
1/5 cup x water
1 – 2 cups sugar (I use raw, organic, golden cane sugar)
Fresh lemon juice to taste
Remove the stones and either roughly chop or blend. I blended.
Put the fruit, sugar, lemon juice and water in your pot and cook on a medium heat for 4 hours, stirring regularly. careful not to have the heat too high or it will burn and become bitter.
Believe it or not, that’s it.
Boil the jars in a separate large pot of water to sterilize. Carefully remove them, dry them, and fill with the hot (not piping hot) jam using your measuring jug for easy pouring. Leave about an inch at the top of the jar.
Drop the mason lids into the hot water to sterilize and soften the rubber sealer band.
Empty most of the water out of the pot used to boil the jars, leaving about 2 inches of water in the pot.
Put the sealed jars filled with jam into the water, and bring to a boil for 5 mins to preserve, or until the lid is concave.
– Start with one cup of sugar, and try halfway though. The riper the fruit, the sweeter they are so test first. Same goes for the lemon juice. I like really tart flavors so added the juice from a whole lemon. (Watch those pesky pips.)
– The larger your pot for cooking the jam is, the least mess there will be from splatter.
– A pound of fruit makes roughly a pint of jam.
– Do not use a plastic measuring jug. It may melt if the jam is too hot.
– Same goes for a plastic spoon. Rather use a wooden spoon.
– Let the filled jars cool completely before storing them away to check that they are properly sealed.
Serve with warm toast or baguette with Earth Balance Vegan Butter. YUM!!!
There is something so immensely satisfying in spreading jam that you have made yourself, onto bread.
It just tastes better.