The time has come to empty the freezer and use up the rest of last season’s fruit to make jam. I freeze the fruit because I can then make preserves at the quieter times of the year. However, this year the blackcurrant bushes are busting and I still have most of last year’s crops!

In this recipe I will show you how I used the homemade pectin to make jam.

Raspberry, Cherry & Strawberry and finally Blackcurrant Jam. Jam keeps well (at least 12 months+) if stored in cool conditions. If you have access to the fruit it can be very cost effective too!

Using sterile jars is essential. I use jars with screw lids in the main. Kilner jars or recycled jars are fine! Having all the jar the same type and size makes storage much easier for me. I save and re-use my own jars. I use the oven method as it is easy to sterilise a large number of jars at once. I sterilise the lids separately in a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes as the oven method can damage the lids.

Whilst the jars are sterilising get making the jam. Even if it takes longer you can leave the jars in the oven in wait avoiding leaving them on the side and open to the air for too long. Don’t forget to sterilise any other equipment used for bottling too – funnels, ladels etc. I boil these in water also.

To test the set of the jam I put a tablespoon in the freezer. I add a bit of jam onto the cold spoon and leave for 2 minutes. If the jam wrinkles a little when you try to move it with your finger and you can run your finger along the spoon leaving a clean streak then the jam will set. When you test the setting point you can boil further if required, but I would do this for very short periods only (a couple of extra minutes at a time). It is easy to overboil the jam, ruin the flavour and even end up with toffee if you boil for long periods.

Sometimes you may find there is a build up on impurities on the surface that looks like a foam. In the batch of the cherry-strawberry jam this did happen. If so, remove before bottling by skimming this off with a spoon. If you see this happening during the rolling boil then adding a small knob of butter can help to bring these impurities together making them easier to remove.

Finally, it is a good idea to ensure the outside of the jars are clean and the jars are have sealed. The easiest way I have found to do this is in process in a waterbath. This is my waterbath set up. I use a metal trivet in the bottom of my jam pan. Simply add jars (standing) to fill the pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil for 15 minutes.

Store jam in a cool place out of direct sunlight and the jams will keep for at least a year, even two. Once a jar is open store in the fridge and eat within 2-3 weeks.

The batch of cherry-strawberry jam required the added pectin. I also made blackcurrant jam; due to the natural high pectin in blackcurrants no added pectin was required to make the blackcurrant batch. For blackcurrant jam I only boil for 5 minutes as this sets much more easily.

Don’t forget to label you jams as creatively as you can!