Strawberry jam - first attempt

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janzjanz, Jan 26, 10:50pm
Hi, I made my first batch of jam (? ? )Quite enjoyed it went and picked the strawberries too. But I now know I need a funnell and a bit more organising. (Made a bit of a mess)... . . but this morning we had the first jar opened for toast. Probably a bit sweet but was nice. Problem was it was quite thick. Can spread but not very runny and spreadable. What did I do wrong ? ?

245sam, Jan 26, 11:04pm
Well done janzjanz for making the jam - to help us advise you re "What did I do wrong" can you tell us exactly what you did. When did you make the jam? My suggestion at this stage is that the jam was boiled for too long and that is why it is "quite thick" and "not very runny and spreadable". If it was only made in the last day or so I would expect it to be very easily spread i. e. of course unless it was boiled for too long. :-))

janzjanz, Jan 26, 11:47pm
Thanks 245. Simmered strawberries on their own for 1/2hr... . maybe more to make them more mushy. Added equial amount of sugar (approx 3kg)I think the fruit was about that much. When I picked them it was 3. 25kg... ... added sugar and boiled for another 1/2 hour. Took off scummy stuff... . . and added I think it was 1/2 cup a lemon juice too. (It was kind of my own recipe. )Thanks. Sounds like I boiled too long. May not give these ones away but eat them ourselves. Am trying another batch next week. Ohhhhh and I boiled the jars then kept them warm in oven.

245sam, Jan 27, 12:26am
janzjanz, did you and if you did, how did you test the jam to see if it was at setting point?
This is how setting point is usually tested and I find it easiest to have a well chilled plate or saucer - chill in the refrigerator if there's time, otherwise put the plate or saucer into the freezer. When the jam should be just at setting point, move the pot so that it's just off the heat and place a small spoonful of jam on the chilled plate or saucer, which can then be returned to the refrigerator for a couple of minutes or so. After that time draw a finger through the centre of the jam on the plate or saucer. If the jam IS at setting point there should be a clear 'pathway' from where the finger was drawn through and a small portion on either of that 'pathway' of set jam.
At this stage I've always followed my Granny's and my Mum's advice and example and briskly stirred the jam for 20 minutes, without scraping the sides of the pot - this rids the jam of the accumulated 'scum'/froth that gathers on the top of it and means that there is no need to skim that 'scum'/froth off the top. The jam should then be filled into warmed jars and covered whilst warm. :-))

Edited to add that, from memory, my Granny and my Mum also sometimes added a small knob of butter (to raspberry jam in particular I think) and that also helped to rid the jam of the 'scum'/froth. It is a while since I made jam but I must find, and will post for you, the recipe for my Granny's very yummy strawberry jam. :-))

liz_taylor, Jan 27, 12:32am
another hint regarding the froth, a small knob of butter (say 1-2T) mix it around when you take the jam off the heat will get rid of it

katalin2, Jan 27, 12:33am
Re needing a funnel: I have cut off the top of a plastic soft drink bottle with about 5cm still on- invert it and you have the perfect funnel! Have been using mine for many years without having to renew it. Read it as a handy hint years ago.

245sam, Jan 27, 12:37am
Here you are janzjanz, my dear old Granny's recipe for

2. 7 Kg (6 lbs) strawberries
4. 086 Kg (9 lbs) sugar
3 tsp tartaric acid

Mash the strawberries and sugar together, then boil them for 2 minutes. Add the tartaric acid and boil for another 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir until the scum disappears (about 20 minutes), bottle and cover while hot.

janzjanz, having compared the cooking time for your jam with the above recipe I can only repeat my suggestion as in #2i. e. that your fruit and the jam were cooked for too long, so that too much of the natural juice of the strawberries was evaporated off. Next time I suggest that you try cooking your jam for much the same time as in the above recipe and you should have a flavourful, easily spread very delicious jam. Good luck with the next batch.

liz_taylor, Jan 27, 12:53am
next time if you want to cook the fruit first (i do as well) try adding 1/2c-1c water to the fruit, this will cook off by the time you add the sugar

korbo, Jan 27, 4:33am
i never use a funnel, just have an old crown lynn medium size jug... . so much easier to pour into jars., Jan 27, 4:49am
Strawberry jam does tend to end up pretty sweet - I usually throw a few boysenberries or similar into the mix, and some lemon juice, to tame it down a bit. Say 6-8 boysenberries for a kilo of strawberries.

cookessentials, Jan 27, 7:43am
I would think that butter in the jam will make it go off far more quickly as it is a dairy product. As for the funnel, very hot jam in an ordinary plastic cut off plastic bottle-mm you run the risk of it melting and leaching chemcials from the plastic into your food. You can get a good stainless steel one or two piece silicone that will take the high heat. I think you have done very well, as most people who make strawberry jam for the first time, make it far too runny and need help in getting it thicker!

janzjanz, Jan 27, 8:07am
My goodness its quite a science. I was told not to use a metal spoon. Only wooden. Yes I think I boiled the hell out of it. The recipe I did look at said boil for 20-30 minutes as this makes the better jam. However your one is over in minutes 245. I didnt manage to burn my hands etc with the jam, but the steam was hot hot hot. Not sure if I would like to be dipping into the mixture with a jug. But the large spoon I did use obviously was not the right one. Thanks everyone for your thoughts. Will persist as I did enjoy it. Plum jam next... ... . . recipes ? ? ? Fail safe ones please. And pickle I think I will also try pickle... ... ... ... ... Ive been watching too many cooking programs. Thanks

janzjanz, Jan 27, 8:08am

janeny1, Jan 27, 1:43pm
I got a leaflet today about local night classesthere is one on making preserves, jam and jellies that i am going to enroll in... not only to learn but to meet new people... . it's in Pakuranga so too far away from you, but check your local colleges ... .

lulu239, Jan 27, 5:07pm
I sometimes look at some jams and think they are too stiff, like some of the commercial jams. Others may be too runny. I almost wonder if it may be a personal choice, not that I would like to drink the jam or chase it around my toast! I think that certain jams need their own consistency. Am I making sense?

janzjanz, Jan 27, 7:23pm
Yes lulu you are making sense. Thanks for the thought janeny

diandbri, Jan 27, 7:48pm
Hiya - I'm a newbie jam maker too and just make all sorts of varieties over the last month. With my Mum's guidance (thank you Mum! ) I think I've finally mastered it but it is trial and error depending on the fruit you use.

The biggest mistake I kept making was not letting the bit I was testing cool enough. It still looked runny as it was still warm so I'd keep cooking longer and longer resulting in jam that set like concrete - seriously possibly harder than concrete. So have remedied that.

The best jam/jelly I made was to combine some blackberry juice from a tinned can and a bit of apple pie filling (from a blackberry and apple pie I was baking) and then added some of my strawberries to make a mixed berry jelly. It has an amazing consistency and beautiful taste and was a great way to use up the remnants from the tins. You get a lot of juice out of tinned berries!

Have fun!

diandbri, Jan 27, 7:50pm
PS:With overset/concrete jam my Mum said if you can get it out of the jars at all you can add some more water to it and reheat it and try again.

liz_taylor, Jan 27, 8:26pm
Never had an issue with it to be honest, Jan 28, 1:24am
I haven't had a problem either. I only use it on stuff that froths, but even so the jam keeps for at least a couple of years without problems (using vacuum seal poptop lids, not the cellophane covers, which are an invitation to mould IMO).

janzjanz, Jan 28, 5:10am
Diandbri - wow what an awsome idea. There are about 6 jars (only started small) so I may give that a go.

raewyn64, Jan 28, 5:48am
diandbri wrote:
The best jam/jelly I made was to combine some blackberry juice from a tinned can and a bit of apple pie filling (from a blackberry and apple pie I was baking) and then added some of my strawberries to make a mixed berry jelly. ! quote]

wow I would not have thought of using apple in jams - I have a whole lot of plums I was going to make some out of so might add some apples to it as well - would that work ok?
Also another question on jams - I have some frozen guavas - if I add them to plums will I lose teh guava flavour? i want to mix it with something and not just make guava jam.

jag5, Jan 28, 6:54pm
Guava jelly would be lovely. Apples grated into jams adds pectin, which is needed for setting of jams. Fruits all have pectin, at differing levels, some higher than others. Lemon juice aids setting, and you can also get Kings Jam Setting mix.

liz_taylor, Jan 28, 8:11pm
i use the cellophane, my jam lasts 12 months (well it never lasts LONGER than that as it gets eaten), but in saying that i gave my dad a jar a few years back, it's still in his pantry, unopened and looks fine... I did have a go at him for not eating it though!

245sam, Jan 28, 8:19pm
And now Chelsea have 1 Kg packs of "Jam Setting Sugar" which is 'normal' sugar with added apple pectin and citric acid - from Chelsea's website here is the Product Info' re this sugar and jam making... . .

"Making delicious jam at home has never been so simple, quick and easy!

Chelsea Jam Setting Sugar + 1kg fruit = homemade jam. It’s an all-in-one product, there’s no need to add a setting agent or work out how much to add.

Simply add fruit and a knob of butter to Chelsea Jam Setting Sugar and boil for four minutes. Treat your family and friends to great tasting homemade jam on toast, scones, biscuits and cakes. It’s sure to impress!

Chelsea Jam Setting Sugar makes 4-5 medium jars of jam. ":-))