Craft · My other ramblings

Branching out #2 Jam Making

Welcome to the second part of my ‘branching out’ series, where I explore crafts I’ve not tried before. Regular followers might be surprised to read about my exploits with boiling sugar given my clumsy tendencies, but the fact I am writing this and not in A&E is a promising sign! (Luck must have been on my side.)

Our neighbour very kindly gave us 2lb of plums from his allotment and suggested making jam. He had already made some and told me how, so when we went shopping I bought a bag of sugar and a lemon (he doesn’t believe in posh jam making sugar and just adds a squeeze of lemon!)

I began by stoning the plums, as although my neighbour had told me the stones would be skimmed off with the scum, my crippling dental phobia would not allow me to risk leaving stones in it. (My catastrophising brain went into overdrive imagining all of the potential tooth damage related scenarios!) I then weighed them and gently poached them in the pan (1980s Prestige pressure cooker base). This led to some very beautiful cooking smells as the plums began to break down. 

If only this was a scratch and sniff photo

Once they were slightly softened, I added an equal weight of sugar and stirred them. At this point I was not convinced and thought I had used too much sugar. After a short while, though, it came together and began to heat up and eventually boil. Once it had reached a rolling boil I turned it down to a more gentle bubbling (but not quite a simmer) and whipped out my fancy Lakeland jam making thermometer which we had purchased in one of our pre children moments of frivolous spending. This part seemed to take ages as it didn’t reach the right temperature for almost an hour. (Put it this way, Dave and the kids had abandoned their dream of jam on toast and gone to the allotment.  I suspect that they also wanted to avoid seeing what damage I could do to myself with a pan of bubbling syrup!)

I Googled ways to check it was ready and the wrinkle test seemed to be prevalent. I, being impatient, tested too early and it wasn’t quite ready. It had reached the right temperature but needed longer to cook fully. I tried all sorts, including putting the plate in the freezer before the test. I even went to see the neighbour, who was out in the front garden, to check I was on the right lines. It was hard to maintain a constant temperature and I think I had over boiled it, but I did get a wrinkle (on the plate and on my forehead) eventually and poured it into the really hot jars. This was the dangerous part, in fact William declared that it looked like lava, which was not far off. (They returned from the allotment just in time to witness this!) 
The jars had been sterilised whilst the jam cooked and altogether it made 4 jars. Later on that day we sampled the jam on some toast.  It was delicious, though I suspect that it was overcooked as it tasted slightly caramelised (not at all unpleasant, though I don’t think I’d do it intentionally!) Since I made it, jam sandwiches have been the children’s lunch of choice, though I’ve been mean and not let them have it every day. 

Whilst I don’t think I’ll be entering any competitions any time soon, I really enjoyed making jam and will definitely do it again. It wasn’t quite as dangerous or tricky as I thought; the main ingredient seems to be patience.

Have you ever made jam? What is your favourite? Do you have any tips?

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39 thoughts on “Branching out #2 Jam Making

  1. I’ve never made jam – but the librarian at my school was a gardener and I once had a neighbor that made his own bread! This is soo cool, I wouldn’t have dared to attempt this as I am a hazard in the kitchen. The toast looks divine!! yummm

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  2. Looks delicious .. and I love plumb jam.. I made a whole lot of Blackberry and Apple Jam last year.. Makes good pressies to give away too with pretty jars decorated.. 🙂 Wonderful… and Yummy.. and yes its not so difficult is it.. 🙂 xxx

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  3. Never made it, and, being brutally honest, it’s because I was scared stiff about making it. I’ve wanted to. Ohhh, how I’ve wanted to make it myself. But … I feared that either I’d set the house on fire, or I’d seriously burn myself and Mr.Cobs would take me to A&E, driving like a lunatic while telling me the seven sorts of daft I am, only to arrive at A&E and have them tell me another 14 sorts of daft I am, and also how many people they have there every day, with jam making burns.

    However … you’ve given me something to think about. I’d really love to have a go. Perhaps …. hmm.. perhaps I should run this idea past Mr.Cobs and see what his face registers. lol. 🙂

    Seeing the photos … I’m longing for a jam sandwich now.
    BRILLIANT results, and thrilled to hear that the children love it.
    Sending squidges ~ Cobs. x

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  4. Oooooh yummy! I have never made jam, but I do make marmalade every christmas as a way of getting through the enormous amount of clementines I always seem to aquire at that time of year. I really enjoy it. The key really is patience.

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  5. Sounds like you did a good job. Yes, I have made jam. Plum jam. I don’t like plums at all, but the rest of my family do and my dad was very proud of his plum tree harvest. I am pretty sure we had the same simple base recipe as you, and also patience was the key. No silver bullet!

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  6. YUM!!!

    Haven’t made jam since I was a kid visiting my Great Aunts. 🙂 Brilliant read.

    Hope you’ve given yourself a pat on the back….for a number of reasons; not being in A&E is just the start. 😉 Enjoy your first 4 jars…here’s to many more to come.

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  7. Love your blog! I’d say that’s a wonderful first time at jam making! A few years back I ventured making jam for the first time… oddly enough that was plum as well. I have made many jars of jam over the last few years… my kids love it. My favorite is low sugar(uses like 1/4 of the normal amount of sugar) blueberry jam, so you can really taste the blueberry flavor. I am not a patient person, so my jam is always soft-set or a kind of syrup, but we kinda like it that way. Goes great on vanilla ice cream!
    Keep at it! I have found, while experimenting with jam-making, even the mess ups are tasty!

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  8. I used to make cherry jam and strawberry jam (when we lived in a country that that had ample supplies of both) and never used a great deal of sugar. I also used to add lemon juice and the lemon seeds (skim them off at the end) for the added pectin. I miss making my own jam. Loved your post.

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  9. I never say its runny or it didn’t set. I just tell everyone its supposed to be like that, its syrup for pancakes, waffles or ice cream. LOL We end up using it on sandwiches too. As long as it tastes good my teenagers don’t care. haha!

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  10. Ooooo looks lovely. Home made jam always tastes so much better than shop bought plus you know exactly what is in it. My favourite to make has to be mixed berries but only as I freeze all of my berries together as I’m too lazy to separate them. Plum usually sets quite well as they are high in pectin, so my mixed berries jam often has plum in it as well as long as we get a good plum harvest (no such luck this year).

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  11. Well I am back with your Jam making .. told you I catch up eventually.. The garden allotments have been taking up lots of our time, plus I have been pacing myself with a few aches recently.. so resting in the afternoon..
    I have one eye on the Paralympics as I type which I have so enjoyed watching these past two weeks in the evenings so my blog comments have been hit and miss..
    Hannah just won another gold in the 800 metres wheel chair race.. Wonderful. I have been tuned into channel 4.. 🙂
    So loved my catch up with you here.. You are so gifted in your crafts no wonder you teach..
    Love and Blessings, Good night my friend
    Sue xxx

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