Clementine & Ginger Jam. Water-bath processing preserves

How do I waterbath process preserves? Here I discuss how I used leftover Christmas clementines to make a tasty jam and processed the jars for storage.

Reducing food waste is something I have quite a passion for. Food production/ packaging is one of the biggest sources of plastic and carbon emissions . Although the food industry is responsible for much of the food waste produced, it happens in the home too. In 2015, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee reported that average household in the UK lost £470 a year because of avoidable food waste, while those households with children lost an average of £700 worth of food.

At the end of Christmas week I was left with odds and ends in the fridge that needed using which I discussed in this Facebook Live video:

New Year Party treats from Christmas Leftovers

Using up all the Christmas food waste to create New Year party items.

Posted by Don't Crop Me Now on Tuesday, 31 December 2019

I had planned to use the clementines (8) and lemons (2) to make a cake, but decided I would make a preserve that could be used at a later date.

To make the preserve I covered the whole fruits with water and simmered for about 15 minutes until soft. I then removed any pips and blended the water and fruits. Using this pulp, I added a decent amount of frozen ginger and the same weight (of fruit pulp) of granulated sugar. I boiled to setting point and then processed in a water bath.

On our Facebook group a few followers have asked how I waterbath process my preserves. The first thing to note is people use many different methods. In the UK, people often don’t waterbath process high sugar preserves (jam/chutney). This is because sugar is a very good preservative and many believe that extra heat sterilising isn’t required.

I do this for a few reasons

  • It ensures the contents of the jar get really hot so it seals well. Broken seals are the number reason for preserves to fail in storage.
  • It cleans the outside of the jars for labelling/storage.

If you do decide to make jams/chutneys and don’t process them do make sure you sterilise your jars well. I wash the jars and then put in the oven for 20 minutes at 120C. I use screw-capped jars. They are cheap to buy and can be re-used. Using recycled jars is completely fine. If the lids have been used for high vinegar preserves like pickles there is a risk that is can affect the seal so just be aware of this.

Please note that water-bathing is not a safe method to process low sugar or low acid foods like vegetables. I use water-bathing for pickles (in full strength vinegar), chutneys, jams and bottling high acidity fruits in a acidified (lemon) sugar syrup.

Add the hot preserve and screw the lids on tightly. Ensure you use a trivet at the bottom of your pan. If the heat is directly on the glass the jars will break. As an alternative you can use a bit of cloth at the bottom of the pan. I use a preserving pan because the jars need to be covered completely for processing and this has a decent height.

Bring to the boil and leave the jars for 15 mins.

There are gadgets you can buy to get the jars out of the boiling water. I find the easiest solution is to pour most of the water out of the pan and then you can just pick the jars out with an oven glove. Leave the jars to cool. The lids will vacuum seal with the change in temperature. Depending on the lids you have you use you might see this if they have a ‘dimple’. Often they don’t, but it is clear that the lid is sucked down tightly.