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