In a jam…
This first post is a real high-level overview of making jam. There will be more detail later but let’s start with the basics.
- Prepare fruit and put it in a pan with sugar. Add heat. Bring to boil – let boil for 10-20 minutes. The longer it cooks the thicker your jam will be – unless you overcook and that’s not good. There are multiple testing methods such as the drip method, quick freeze and temperature (that’s the candy thermometer’s role).
- Put seals under hot water (I take a bit from the boiling pressure cooker and leave them on the counter for 5 minutes or so). This softens the seal. Do not do this over direct heat or you could melt these.
- Drain jars and add jam while jars are still hot.
- Add seals (without touching the “rubber” bit).
- Screw rings on.
- Put all jars in a big pot (called a waterbath) covered with 2-3 inches of water above the rims. Avoid placing the jars directly on the bottom of your pan as this may cause breakage – many people use racks or attach a series of jar rings together using twist ties (start by making a shape similar to the Olympic Rings and then continue until you cover most of the bottom of your pot) to remove this direct contact. Seal and bring to a boil once steam escapes for 10- minutes, set to 10 pounds of pressure and steam a further 10 minutes. This will add the seal – the pressure cooker is needed for jams (i.e. anything that is not jarred with a heavy acid content).
- Take off direct heat and remove pressure cooker cover only once safe (consult manufacturer).
- Let jars cool on a rack – never directly on a flat surface. Flat surfaces lead to a multitude of problems, most which can end up with craked or broken – usually from a rapid cooling or from pools of water which gather from the jars. Enjoy the popping sound – it’s a fantastic sound that lets’ you know the process is working.
- Check your jars the next day – the seals should seel “pulled in.” You should be able to remove the rings and the seal should stay for years to come. Many store without the rings. If your jam looks liquid at first – don’t panic. Some jams can take several days before they set.