How to: make your own jam

Knowing how much pectin is in fruits will allow you to create your own jams with whatever seasonal fruit you have.

Pectin test

To test how much sugar is needed for a specific fruit to make jam – spoon 5ml of the fruit liquid/pulp into a glass and stir in 15ml methylated spirits:

  • If it forms a fairly solid, jelly-like clot, the fruit is high in pectin and it will jell quickly, so cooking time will be short.
  • If several small clots appear use 180ml sugar to every 250ml fruit.
  • If the mixture doesn’t clot or clots are tiny, the fruit is low in pectin, use 125ml sugar to every 250ml fruit and add a squeeze of lemon juice when the sugar has dissolved.

Know your fruit

Fruits that are best for making jam are the ones with a good acid and pectin balance like green apples, grapes, plums, citrus and gooseberries. Slightly under-ripe fruit works best.

FRUIT WITH HIGH PECTIN AND LOW ACID – Sweet apples, guavas, quinces. To increase the acid content add 30ml lemon juice for every 1kg of fruit.

LOW PECTIN/HIGH ACID – Pineapples, apricots, under-ripe peaches and rhubarb. To increase the pectin content, add 30ml lemon juice for every 1kg of fruit.

LOW PECTIN AND ACID – Berries, melons, pears and cherries. Use 125ml sugar to every 250ml fruit and add a squeeze of lemon juice when the sugar has dissolved. If this also doesn’t work, add commercial pectin, following the packet instructions.

Now try your hand at a few our our favourites:

Tomato jam

Bacon and beer jam 

Strawberry and rosewater jam 

Strawberry and rosewater jam

Olive jam 

Olive-jam

Strawberry and granadilla jam 

Strawberry and Granadilla Jam

Peach, raspberry and vanilla jam 

Peach, Raspberry and Vanilla Jam

Microvawe strawberry jam 

 

 

Feature: Margie Els-Burger assisted by Nomvuselelo Mncube images by Caxton photographers and Fotolia.com

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