I was nervous to make jam for the first time (as it is with anything new). We inherited two wonderful plum trees when we bought our house, and they've finally come into fruit. I had a feeling of anxiety about not being prepared and wasting their harvest!
However, I scanned in a really good article about the basics, scanned the old-fashioned low-down, and the still currently used manual. I've come up with my simplest method.
The biggest point is to just do it - today standards are so high, that it takes the fun out of everything. Cut up fruit, and boil it with sugar. Pour into sterilized jars. It's really fun!
And after you do it just once or twice - it's simple too.
Sources: Good magazine, Aunt Daisy's Cookbook, Edmonds Cookbook
2.7 kg (6 lbs.) cut up strawberries (obviously without top end with green plant - cut in half)
2.3 kg (5 lbs.) sugar (original recipe calls for 2.7, but I want to be healthier)
Juice of 2 lemons
Water: There is no water added in this recipe. It's weird but the strawberries reduce down and release their water!
Pectin: Some fruits have natural pectin - like apples, and strawberries. So, no additional pectin is needed.
Sterilizing: First, STERILIZE YOUR JARS - 5 to 6 jam jars with bands and dome lids per batch of jam. I used Perfit Utility Preserving Jars (NZ). You can reuse jars you've bought jam or pasta sauce in - but to guarantee long storage, use proper canning jars with bands and dome lids.
First wash the jars with hot soapy water and rinse. Then boil the jars themselves in a large pot, covered over with water, for 5 minutes (lids too if reusing jars).
Put boiled jars in the oven which has been preheated to 150 degrees Celsius. Keep them there until jam is ready to be poured in. Put the bands in there too. Take the lids and place them into a container, ready to have boiling water poured on them just before you need them.
Boiling: Put strawberries in a really huge pot on your stove. Measure out your sugar and put it beside you. It's true, the recipe does not call for any water. Just the strawberries in a pot. As they heat, they will "melt" and all the water will come out. Turn on the burner to Med heat. As strawberries melt, add sugar and stir. Dissolve the sugar until it's all added. Then, TURN UP THE HEAT. ALL THE WAY, AND BOIL LIKE MAD. Watch out for small burning sugar solution meteors though, especially at first. A bit landed on my bare arm, and left a singe mark the exact shape of the drip. BOIL FOR 15-20 MINUTES. Test the jam to see if it's "set up" (is less runny) for the exact time. Near the end of boiling, add the juice of 2 lemons.
Pouring and Sealing: This is my parent's method, from home in Canada. Pour jam up to about 1 cm from the top - up to the rim. Making sure the rim's surface is cleaned of any jam, you place a sterilized dome lid - I poured boiling water on it first - onto the jar. Then screw on the band. The hot jam's vapour pressure forces the air to leave the jar, and the jar is vacuum sealed.
Look how much sugar!
STRAWBERRY & PLUM JAM
2.7 kg (6 lbs.) cut up plums and strawberries, any ratio
2.3 kg (5 lbs.) sugar
Water - if mostly plums, add 1 cup water. If mostly strawberries, none.
Juice of 1 lemon
Sterilize your jars and lids (as recipe above). Put cut up fruit (and water if any) into a big pot. Cook on medium heat until fruit is soft, adding sugar a cup or so at a time. When sugar is dissolved and fruit is softened, turn the heat up and BOIL LIKE MAD for 15-20 minutes - test. Just before you take it off, add the juice of 1 lemon. Pour and seal (as in recipe above).
2.7 kg (6 lbs.) cut up plums
1 1/4 cups water.
2 kg (4 lbs. 8 ozs.) sugar (don't remove any sugar or it will be bitter)
Pectin: With plums, you can leave the stones in as the mixture boils, then remove them as they rise to surface. Apparently it helps the jam to set. Alternatively, just use "jam setting sugar" or add pectin. (I chose the jam setting sugar for zero waste reasons - pectin was only available at the grocery store in a plastic package.)
Sterilize your jars and lids. Put cut up fruit (and water if any) into a big pot. Cook on medium heat until fruit is soft, adding sugar a cup or so at a time. When sugar is dissolved and fruit is softened, turn the heat up and BOIL LIKE MAD for 15-20 minutes (test). Pour and seal (as above).