Photo by Robert Bye via Unsplash
A few weeks ago, we shared a beginner’s guide to pickling vegetables (read here), but now that we’re at the peak of summer, what we’re really thinking about is all that delicious fresh fruit currently available and how we can enjoy it down to the last nibble.
Our solution is making our own fruit jam in small batches so that we can enjoy it pretty quickly after making it. So, there are two ways of making homemade jam or jelly. One is to use the traditional hot-water-bath canning technique for longer-lasting, large-batch jamming. The other is to make jams in small batches so that you can eat and enjoy them quickly before they spoil, which is what we’ve outlined below, so that you can taste the delicious fruits of your labor without delay. So, follow along to learn how to make the perfect small-batch jam.
Photo by Louis Hansel via Unsplash
Sterilize your instrumentsUse clean towels, rinse your utensils with boiling water, and boil your jars and lids for a few minutes before starting.
Gather your ingredientsSelect the fruit of your choice (fresh picked is always best) with enough to make about 2 ½ cups once smashed or diced. Here’s everything you’ll need:
- 2 ½ cups fruit: smashed, diced, or sliced
- 1 lemon
- ¼ cup of sugar (or honey or agave), or to taste
- Natural pectin
- A pinch of salt, or to taste
- Note: You can omit the pectin. Your jam will just be a bit runnier.
Photo by Jonathan Pielmayer via Unsplash
Start your jam sessionCut your fruit, discarding any pits, cores, or heavily bruised sections. Feel free to mash, chop, or slice, depending on the consistency of fruit you want in your final jam. Combine the fruit and sugar in a medium-size saucepan. If desired, add the pectin according to package directions. Sprinkle in a bit of salt to make the fruit flavor really pop and squeeze in some lemon to cut the sweetness until you find just the right balance between tart and sweet.
Test the resultsBring the mixture to a boil. The moisture in the fruit will keep it from burning, but be sure to stir frequently so it doesn’t stick to the pot. After about five to seven minutes of boiling, check to see if the jam is set, using this trusty trick to test your concoction: Put a few drops of jam on a frozen spoon. Wait a few seconds and then run your finger through the jam. If a trail appears on the spoon, the jam is done. If not, keep on cooking. You can also taste the jam at this point to see if it needs more sugar, more lemon, etc.
Turn off the stove and carefully spoon the jam into jars. Set the jars aside to cool to room temperature. Then, put on the lids, stick the jars in the fridge, and enjoy your jam for up to three weeks after opening. A bonus: not only do you get to taste the delicious bounty you’ve preserved, but homemade jam also makes the most thoughtful of gifts. Sweet, indeed.
Written by Dani Howell