I’d never made jam before last week. My other half has the sweetest tooth known to man and eats endless amounts of the stuff so when Tate & Lyle asked me to join their #iamajam blogger campaign, it seemed like a good opportunity to finally give it a go.
I’ve always avoided jam making as it seemed too difficult due to needing to get your ingredients just right. My cooking style is more throw it in and see how it turns out than the methodical and measured approach needed for things like cake and jam. However, Tate & Lyle have brought out a new ‘jam sugar’ which contains the right amounts of pectin and sugar needed for jam making, meaning all you have to do is add 1kg of sugar to 1kg of fruit and make sure it boils to the right temperature. Brilliant!
I decided to go with one of their recipes; strawberry and Prosecco, using some really gorgeous strawberries I got from one of the greengrocers along Bristol’s Gloucester Road.
My advice with jam making (despite being a relative novice) is this: Don’t be scared to test and return to the heat until you’re sure the consistency is just right. I would also recommend getting a jam thermometer if you don’t have one. My kilner thermometer is great as it has a hook to attach it to the edge of the saucepan and hold it in place for an even reading. Getting your boiling temperature wrong is the thing which’ll make or break your jam. Too low and it won’t set, too high and it’ll be too thick! Hit that 105 degrees mark and you’ll have perfect jam. I’m talking from experience because my jam is a little runnier than I think it’s meant to be. That said, the flavour is absolutely delicious!
You can find the full recipe and a demo video on the taste & smile website but for ease, here it is again:
- Put the strawberries into a large saucepan and place over a low heat, simmering in their own juices for 5 minutes, stirring gently from time to time until soft.
- Add the Prosecco and stir.
- Then add the Tate & Lyle Jam Sugar and stir gently until dissolved completely.
- Put a couple of small plates in the freezer ready for testing the setting of the jam.
- Meanwhile, sterilise 9 x 200mL jars by washing them in hot soapy water, rinsing well, then place them in a low oven at 150°C/Fan 130°C/Gas Mark 2 for 15 minutes.
- Increase the heat steadily to a rolling boil. After 15-20 minutes you can test to see if the set point is ready. If you are using a Jam Thermometer then you can test it once the temperature reaches 105°C. To test the jam for its setting point, remove the saucepan from the heat and spoon a little jam onto a cold refrigerated plate and leave for a few seconds – it should wrinkle softly when you push your finger through it.
- If the setting point has not been reached, return the saucepan to the heat and continue to boil for another 2-3 minutes. Then repeat the test again with a fresh refrigerated plate. (You may need to test it several times, be patient, as this testing is crucial to achieving the correct consistency).
- Leave the jam to cool for about 10 minutes in the saucepan before skimming off any scum that rises to the surface and then stir well before pouring the jam into the warm sterilised jars.
- Seal with the lids and label. Store in a cool dark place.