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How to Make Jam and Chutney

An in-depth guide on how you can make deliciously fruity jam and chutney at home.

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Store your delicious jam or chutney in our sealed preserving jars - perfect for preserving and keeping your food fresher for longer.

Jam is beloved across the United Kingdom, with millions of Britons choosing jam over many other spreads. But not everyone is spreading their jam on bread. With people spending more time at home due to the pandemic, baking has become a favourite pastime for many. Jam is being smeared between layers of cake for the perfect Victoria sponge; dolloped onto scones; and added to porridge for extra flavour. So, it comes as no surprise that some home bakers may be wondering how to make homemade jam and chutney?

The correct ingredients and equipment are essential if you want to make fruity homemade jams and delicious savoury chutneys. Whether you're new to jam or looking to hone your technical skills, our handy jam making guide offer tips on how to make your favourite jams and chutneys.

Jam (and chutney) requires only a few ingredients. Before you head out to buy sugar and pectin, you need to decide on the flavour of jam you wish to make. Certain fruits are high in pectin, whereas others are not and this can impact whether you need pectin or not.

Fruit

Choose the fruit you wish to turn into jam and research whether your chosen fruit is high in pectin. Small berries, such as strawberries and blueberries, are low in pectin and may require commercial pectin to help thicken your jam. However, plums, cranberries, unripe blackberries and citrus fruits are high in pectin.

Sugar

Sugar adds sweetness, but it also works with the pectin to help thicken the fruit and create a more gel-like texture. Sugar also helps preserve your fruit, inhibiting mould growth and helping your jam maintain its colour. 

Pectin

While pectin occurs naturally in fruit, you may need to add commercially produced pectin into your recipe to help firm up the jam. Pectin must be cooked to a high temperature for it to start forming into a gel that helps thicken your jam. 

Is Pectin Vegan?

Pectin is vegan and vegetarian-friendly due to it being exclusively made from plants and, therefore, suitable for a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Can You Make Jam without Pectin?

Yes, you can make jam without pectin. Lemon juice is a common substitute when fruits do not have enough natural pectin and you do not wish to use a commercial alternative. Pectin can shorten cooking time because it acts as a gelling agent, reducing the time needed to help set your jam.

What Equipment Do I Need to Make Jam?

Minimal equipment is needed to make jam or chutney; however, you will want to ensure that you have the following before you start making jam.

Preserving Pan

A preserving pan is a solid, heavy pan with a round, bowl-like shape that helps encourage evaporation of the water in the fruit while concentrating the sugar and fruit together. Due to its thick bottom, the pan helps protect the fruit from burning.

Jam and Confectionery Thermometer

Jam needs to reach the setting point which is around 104-105.5 degrees Celcius. The best way to keep an eye on the rising temperature of your jam is by using a dedicated jam thermometer.

Heatproof Cooking Utensils

Cooking utensils that do not become too hot to the touch or chemically react with acidic foods is a must. Avoid using plastic utensils, and instead, use metal or wooden spoons for stirring. 

Jam Jars

Heatproof jam or preserving jars that are easy to sterilise are ideal for storing jam. Jars that can withstand high heat are necessary as the sterilisation process typically requires the jars to undergo a hot cycle in the dishwasher before being kept warm in the oven.

Double check that your jam jars are dishwasher and oven safe.

What Ingredients Do I Need to Make Jam?

Baking UtensilsFood ThermometersFood Storage Containers

Strawberry Jam Recipe

Here's our simple strawberry jam recipe. Once set, spread your homemade jam on toast, scones, or use it to fill a Victoria sponge.

Prep Time: 15 minutes (approx.)

Cook Time: 20 minutes (approx.)

Setting Time: 10 minutes (approx.)

Total Time: 45 minutes (approx.)

Strawberry Jam Ingredients

  • 1kg of strawberries
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1kg of granulated sugar

Equipment

  • Preserving pan (or stock pot)
  • Jam jars (sterilised)
  • Jam thermometer
  • Funnel
  • Heatproof dish

Method

  1. Before you start cooking, set up your equipment. Place the heatproof dish in the freezer. This dish will be used to test whether your jam has set and is ready to be stored in your jam jars.
  2. Next up, sterilise your jam jars and their lids. Make sure the lids are separate from the jars and put them through a cycle in your dishwasher. Preheat your oven at 170C/150C Fan, and once it's warm enough, unload your jam jars onto an ovenproof tray and place them in the oven until needed. Your jam jars need to be fairly warm when transitioning from dishwasher to oven.
  3. Hull and wash your strawberries. Once done, place them into your preserving pan. Juice your lemon and add to the strawberries before placing your preserving pan on the hob and over a medium heat.
  4. Keep an eye on your strawberries. Once they come to a simmer, they will start to soften, and the juices will run. When this happens, add your sugar, and gently stir through your strawberries until the sugar has thoroughly dissolved.
  5. You may wish to mash the strawberries for a smoother texture. However, this is down to personal preference. If you like larger chunks of fruit in your jam, you can leave them whole or only slightly mash the berries. If you enjoy a smoother jam, mash until you reach your desired consistency.
  6. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. You want to get a good rolling boil as this is the best way to get your jam to the right temperature for setting. When you have attained a rolling boil, try not to stir the liquid as this will reduce the temperature. Do, however, skim off any scum (the froth) that may appear on the top of your jam as this froth can make your jam look cloudy and less appealing.
  7. After approximately 20 minutes of cooking, it's time to test the set of the jam. Use your jam thermometer to read the temperature of your jam. The setting point for jam is around 104.5C/220F. If you've reached this point, take your jam off the heat while testing the setting point to avoid your jam from overcooking.
  8. Take the plate out from the freezer for the wrinkle test. Spoon some of the jam onto the cold plate and put it back in the fridge for a few minutes. Take it out again and push the jam with your finger. If the jam wrinkles, it is ready to cool and be potted. However, if your jam is too runny, put the pan on heat again for another 10 minutes and test again (remember to place your plate back in the freezer).
  9. Before filling your jam jars, skim off any remaining scum. Once done, set the pan to the side for 10 minutes before distributing it into your jam jars. Not only does this allow the jam to cool a little bit, but it allows better distribution of the fruit.
  10. If you have a mini funnel, use one as this can make it easier and safer. If you do not have a jam funnel, use a spoon to distribute the jam into the jam jars. Once done, seal your jam jars and set them aside to cool before labelling.
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ProCook Wooden Spoon 30cmTypical Price £3Only £2Shop Now
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Simple Classic Chutney Recipe

Although chutney requires similar steps to making jam, chutney making can be a little more complex. Here's our simple chutney recipe that includes apple, garlic and onions - delicious with crackers or in a sandwich.

Prep Time: 20-30 minutes (approx.)

Cook Time: 20 minutes to 1 hour (approx.)

Setting Time: 10 minutes (approx.)

Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes (approx.)

Savoury Apple Chutney Ingredients

  • 1kg of Bramley apples
  • 500g of onions
  • 3cm of ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 100g of dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, dates, etc.)
  • 500ml of distilled malt or cider vinegar
  • 250g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp of salt
  • Chilli flakes (to taste)

You might need these:

  • Preserving pan (or stock pot)
  • Preserving jars (sterilised)
  • Funnel
  • Heatproof dish

You might need these:

  1. Much like when making jam, sterilise your preserving jars beforehand. Do this by putting them through a hot cycle in the dishwasher and placing them into a preheated oven at 170C/150CFan.
  2. Peel and core your apples before roughly chopping them into medium-sized chunks. Once done, peel and chop your onions before peeling and finely chopping the ginger and garlic.
  3. Place your chopped ingredients, chilli, dried fruit into the preserving pan before stirring in your choice of vinegar, sugar and salt. Continue to stir the mixture over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. 
  4. Once the sugar is fully dissolved, bring the pan to a boil, then slightly reduce the heat until you reach a simmer. Leave the chutney to simmer for around 1 hour, stirring now and then to avoid your ingredients from sticking and burning to the bottom of the pan. You'll notice that your chutney will start to thicken over time. When this happens, stir the chutney more frequently.
  5. Test your chutney by scraping a wooden spoon across the bottom of the preserving pan. If the chutney does not flow back into the gap, it is done. You may also want to do the setting test, which requires you to take out the dish from the freezer, drop a spoonful of mixture onto the dish before returning it to the fridge for a few minutes. If the liquid is loose and runs, put the chutney back on the heat for another 10 minutes.
  6. Once cooked, take the preserving pan off the heat and let it cool for 10 minutes. Carefully spoon the chutney through a funnel and into a preserving jar. Store your chutney in a cool, dark place.

TIP: The amount of chutney you end up with depends on the fruits and vegetables you use. Yellow plums, for example, are full of liquid and will require your chutney to reduce a lot longer for it to set. Carrots, however, contain less water and will yield more chutney.

We also have a recipe for spiced apple and plum chutney  - why not check it out?

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How to Store Jam and Chutney

Although the fruits and vegetables used in jam and chutney are somewhat preserved, they still require proper storage if they are to last for as long as possible. Unopened jam or chutney can survive without being refrigerated. Place them in a cool, dry, and dark place that's free from direct sunlight. This is because direct sunlight or exposure to high heat can cause your jam or chutney to degrade quickly, which can impact the flavour, texture and appearance of your preserves.

However, once opened, you should refrigerate your jam and chutney as this can lengthen its lifespan. Make sure to always seal your jam or chutney jar tightly as this can reduce the chances of bacteria and mould from appearing. Our preserving jars can be a great way to store your preserves at home.

How Long Do Jams and Chutneys Last?

Although jams and chutneys should last for many years, always check the best before date and look for mould before consumption. Typically, unopened preserves can last between 12 to 24 months in a pantry, but if you haven't stored your jams or chutneys properly, they may only last six months (sometimes less).

Once opened, your jams or chutneys may only last between two weeks to a month. Furthermore, opened preserves can lose their flavour over time, so be wary if the taste of your jam or chutney changes.


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