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Beginner’s Guide to Jam and Preserve Making

This guide aims to help you get to grips with the basics of making jams and preserves. We look at the history behind jam as well as the essential supplies you need to get started, methods, and more!

Before even contemplating the idea of making jams or chutneys, you must first ensure that you have all the essential tools and equipment to hand. This will boost your chances of success!

Preserving Pan

The volume of fruit reduces significantly when cooking; you need to make sure you find the biggest, roomiest pan so that you can fit as much fruit in as possible. Opt for a stainless steel or an enamel pan and avoid aluminium pans at all costs. Aluminium will react with the acid in the fruit jams or vinegar in savoury preserves.

Sterilised Jars

It’s very important that you thoroughly clean your jam jars before you pour your jams and preserves into them. If you want to know how to sterilise jam jars, keep reading to find out. Ideally, the perfect jar will have a metal screw top. Any jar will do unless it’s chipped or cracked; discard any damaged jars.

Funnel

Try to find a wide-mouth funnel; this essential tool is a must when making homemade jams and preserves. It will help you greatly whilst pouring extremely hot jam and chutneys into jars. Jam is messy business so you don’t want to be scrubbing cooled, sticky jam off your worktops! You certainly don’t want to pour piping hot jam over yourself either, so a funnel is highly recommended.

Spoons

You’ll want plenty of spoons to hand when making preserves. A large slotted spoon is perfect for removing any scum from the surface of the pan, while a long-handed wooden spoon is ideal for stirring the contents. A metal ladle is useful for spooning the mixture into the funnel and metal spoons are essential for tasting!

Sugar Thermometer

It’s worth investing in a sugar thermometer for your jam making, especially if you’re a beginner. This useful tool will help you know when you’ve reached the setting point.

Wax Paper Circles

Once you have poured your jam into the jars, you should place a paper circle on top. This will protect the top layer of the jam to prevent any mould developing.

Tags & Labels

Tags and labels will allow you to get creative and write the flavour of your jam and chutney on the jars.

Lifting Tongs

These specialised tongs will enable you to lift jars filled with piping hot preserves without having to rely on a tea towel and risk making a mess!

Strainer

A strainer set will include jelly bags made from very fine mesh, designed to strain your jam or chutney mixture to clarify into a clear liquid. These bags will strain out any pulp, seeds, or skin. They will usually fit around a stand so you can leave the liquid to drain on its own.