Make Your Own Jam and Jelly

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Soft Fruit for JMaking Jam and Jellies

Soft Fruit for Making Jam and Jellies

Both my Nans made their own jam and jellies. Nanny Gwen would buy punnets of fruit from the greengrocer and make tiny batches of jam in paste pots. She would serve little homemade drop scones with a paste pot of raspberry jam on plates with doilies and serve tea from a delicate rose bloom bone china tea set. My other Nan, Nanny Dora, grew her own fruit, and a loganberry will always make me think of her. She was more of a Woolworth’s girl, with serviceable seventies pottery and thick, heavy scones with raspberry jam and a tin of sterilised cream. I can see the packet of ready-cut greaseproof paper circles, elastic bands and cellophane tops that she bought and kept in the pantry.

Nanny Dora

Nanny Dora

My own kids, now grown up and left home, love to come back and raid the homemade jam cupboard. I had a look in the store cupboard the other day and saw we have plenty of chutney left, but no jam whatsoever. It is July, the fruit bushes are dripping and the jam-making is beginning in earnest. this year, from 25 July to 2 August, it is National Preserving Awareness Week, encouraging those who make their own preserves to help those who are new to the game. How great that jam making and preserving is having a revival. My Nans would be very pleased.

Preserving is yet another way to lead a more sustainable lifestyle – recycling jars, using homegrown produce, and reducing the need for transportation and factory-produced food. You will also know exactly what has gone into your jars, with sugar and vinegar being the only preservatives; no colourings or nasty additives. Once you have mastered a few basic skills, preserving is relatively easy and the rewards numerous. A well-stocked pantry cupboard is a delight and will see you through the colder months with reminders of summer.

Jam and Jelly Making Equipment

preserving pan for jam making

preserving pan for jam making

Jam Pan – you will need a good, solid bottomed jam pan – a heavy-bottomed saucepan will work, but if you are looking to drop hints for Christmas presents, a jam pan is a great investment. It allows the ‘rolling boil’ and stops the bottom getting burnt. It will also have a handle and some come with a handy pouring dint at the top.

Jam Jars – collect these all year round – don’t throw any jars away. If you are going to be living a sustainable lifestyle, making preserves, drying herbs, making herbal teas, then jam jars are invaluable. Go to the effort of soaking and scrubbing off the labels (we use a wire scrubber and some washing up liquid), and store, lids off, in a cupboard or box til needed.

Jam Thermometer – not vital, but very useful. The setting point of jams is 104.5°C and this can be done using a cold plate and your finger (see below), but a thermometer will save you the hassle. We have one with a probe that is used to test the temperature of all sorts of cooking.

Wooden Spoon – use a long handled wooden spoon – this will become stained and jammy over time. I’m fine with that, but you may want to keep one just for preserves.

jelly bag

jelly bag

Jelly bag and stand, or (muslin and string!) – you can buy jelly bags and stands from Lakeland or other shops, but I use a piece of muslin or double cheesecloth, or a clean tea towel, and hand it from a cupboard handle, letting the jelly drip over-night.

Kitchen Scales

Jam Setting Point

As long as you have got your proportions right, your jam or jelly should set once it is sufficiently cooked. Here are two methods, one without a thermometer and one with:

  1. Crinkle Test – when you start your jam making, pop a small plate or saucer in the fridge and leave it there to chill. Once you think setting point is reached, pop a teaspoon in the plate. Give it a few seconds, then gently push your finger over the jam. If setting point has been reached, a skin will have formed which crinkles when you push your finger over.


  1. Temperature Test – place a preserving thermometer or probe thermometer into the jam when it has reached a rolling boil. When it reads 104.5°C it is done. Pectin rich fruits will set a degree or two, lower.
fruit picking for jam making

fruit picking for jam making

That’s all you need, so let’s get fruit picking and jam making. I’ll start with an easy one, Raspberry Fridge Jam.

Preserves by Pam Corbin and River Cottage

Preserves by Pam Corbin and River Cottage

One recommendation I do have is to get yourself a copy of Pam Corbin’s excellent book from The River Cottage Series, ‘Preserves’. It has lots of great recipes, some traditional and some fantastic ideas, such as making fruit leather for sweeties, or nasturtium pesto – who knew, this was a thing?  Tim’s favourite is Pontak Sauce, made from elderberries, which takes seven years to fully mature.

I’m off out to pick some raspberries and will get recipes up on the website as and when I make them.



Happy jam and jelly making! 

Homemade Jam and Jelly

Homemade Jam and Jelly

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Tim & Sue in the Bridge Cottage Way garden

Thanks for reading. Best wishes, Tim and Sue Reed


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