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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!

There are so many different types of preserves out there, from sweet jams to savoury pickles. But what they have in common is that they all require cooking down various fruits, citrus rinds, vegetables, and vinegar. All of these varieties contain sugar which is cooked to thicken the ingredients.

Jam

Jam is a thick spread typically made from cooked fruit and sugar. Pectin is usually added to help it set into a gel. Jams are looser than jellies and generally contain fruit pulp so they aren’t entirely clear.

Preserves

A preserve is like a jam but chunky in texture; they contain larger pieces of fruit or even whole berries. The fruit is suspended in heavy jelly-like syrup and sometimes has added ingredients such as dried nuts.

Jelly

A fruit jelly should be beautifully clear, smooth, and wobbly. It’s typically made from cooked fruit juice and sugar. The mixture is then strained through a muslin stockinet, also known as a “jelly bag”.

Chutney

Chutneys contain vegetables and fruits cooked with vinegar and sugar. The ingredients in chutneys are usually cut into smaller chunks and the taste has a sweet and sour mix.

Marmalade

Marmalades are a jam made primarily using citrus fruits and the rinds which are preserved therein as thin slices or in chunks.

Relish

Relish is very similar to chutney but contains larger pieces of vegetables; it has a sharper, fresh taste.

Fruit Curd

A curd is smooth and creamy in consistency, made by cooking fruit juice with eggs, butter, and sugar.

Pickles

Pickles contain various fruits and vegetables that have been preserved in vinegar and spices.

Fruit Cheese

Don’t be alarmed by the thought of a ‘fruit cheese’… it’s not the cheese made with milk! A fruit cheese is a fruit butter that has been boiled for longer, resulting in a firm texture that’s perfect for slicing. Fruit cheeses can be served alongside cold meats as an alternative to chutneys and pickles.

Fruit Butter

Fruit butter is soft and spreadable, just like butter (as its name suggests!). This fruity spread is made by boiling together sugar and pureed fruit.