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Crystal Palace food writer Rachel de Thample shares jam-making tips
RACHEL de Thample spoke to News Shopper about her food-related adventures and shares her top tips for jam-making here.
1. You don't even need a recipe to make jam. Just measure 600g fruit and 400g caster sugar - or any six: four ratio of fruit and sugar.
2. Pectin is key to get your jam to set. Fruits high in pectin include apples, citrus rinds, crab apples, cranberries, currants, plums, grapes and quince.
Low pectin fruits are elderberries, apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, strawberries, and raspberries. Use jam sugar that has pectin added to it if you're using low pectin fruit or add 50 per cent high pectin fruit to your jam.
Much of apples pectin is in the skin, so grate your apples with the skin on and mix them 50/50 with the other fruit.
3. You don't need specialist equipment to sterilise your jars. Simply wash them with soap and boiling hot water. Rinse well. Then place the jars and lids into a 100C oven for 15 minutes.
You want your jars hot when pouring the jam into them so do the oven bit just as the jam is reaching setting point.
4. Allow your jam to have a decent boil. Once the sugar has dissolved (warm it in a 100C for 15 minutes before adding it to the jam), let your jam really bubble up.
Skim off any brownish scum and constantly stir. The jam will hit a vigorous boiling stage and then the sound will suddenly change which normally means it has reached setting point.
5. To test, have a saucer in the fridge and spoon a little jam on it. If it's really runny and doesn't hold, it needs a little more cooking. If it firms up soon after hitting the plate, it's done.
The jam in the pot will still look very liquid but you want it pourable when you add it to the jars. If it sets on the plate, it'll set in the jars once cooled.
I always pour a mini jar as a test batch. Check it after a day. If it hasn't set, then you can simply re-boil it. If the jam has overset, you can dilute it with a little juice or water, re-cooking it over medium heat until it reaches the right consistency.
6. You want both the jars and the jam hot when pouring. Use a jug to pour and a cloth to hold the jars. Fill right to the top. Put the lid on immediately. Secure the lid tightly.
Then, tip the jars upside down to help seal the jars - it helps the little wax ring in the jars heat up, sealing it tightly to the jar.
7. Store in a dark, cool place for a year or more. Once opened, refrigerate and use within one month.
For more information, visit @dethample on Twitter.
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