Home preserving is a great way of capturing seasonal fruits when they are at their best to enjoy later in the year. They make perfect gifts too.
For marmalade use Preserving Sugar. Preserving sugar is a very large crystal white sugar. It dissolves more slowly and does not settle on the bottom of the pan, reducing the risk of burning. It may also reduce the need for stirring and skimming.
Granulated sugar is great for high pectin fruits.
Jam sugar which has added pectin is ideal for low pectin fruits.
Slightly under ripe fruit is ideal for preserving as the fruit pectin levels will be at their optimum. Never use damaged fruit as this can spoil the results and the jam is likely to deteriorate quickly.
Jam, jelly and marmalade set because of pectin. Pectin is naturally occurring in fruit, when cooked with sugar and the naturally occurring acid in the fruit, thickens and sets the preserve.
To give a guide on some fruits please see our list below.
Fruits with high pectin content:
Cooking apples, crab apples, cranberries, citrus fruit, damsons, gooseberries, redcurrants, plums, quinces.
Fruits with medium pectin content:
Apricots, blackberries, dessert apples, greengages, loganberries, mulberries, raspberries, plums
Fruits with low pectin content:
Bananas, cherries, figs, grapes, melons, nectarines, peaches, rhubarb, strawberries
It is always ideal to follow a recipe as the time to boil the jam and test the set is best on a smaller batch. In a larger batch the fruit can break down more and can be unevenly distributed in the batch
No specialist equipment is needed but a good preserving pan is recommended. It should have a heavy base and be made of stainless steel. Some pans have measures on the inside which can be useful when determining the yield of a batch of preserves.
It is important to ensure that all the equipment you use is clean.
Jam, jellies, and marmalades all rely on the right combination of pectin, acid and sugar to achieve a good set. This can be checked by temperature or a saucer test.
Place a small saucer in the fridge for 30 minutes. Pour a spoon of the hot jam, jelly or marmalade on to the plate or saucer in to the fridge for 5 minutes. Push the edge if the jam with your index finger, it is set when it all wrinkles. Test after the boiling time the recipe suggests. Then only boil for a further 2 – 5 minutes at a time depending on the test results.
You will need a sugar thermometer for this. Before testing the jam dip the thermometer into a jug of hot water then dry off and insert in the jam. Setting point is reached when the jam reaches 105 C
Jars and lids need to be cleaned and sterile. When using old jars always check they are intact with no cracks or chips. Wash the jars thoroughly in hot soapy water and rinse in warm water. Pre heat the oven to 140 C. Stand the jars in a baking sheet. Do not allow the jars to touch. Leave them in the oven for about 30 minutes.
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