Hello Mastery Challenge participants! June is passing with alarming speed and so it’s well past time for this monthly introductory blog post. This time, we’re focusing on jam making, which is probably going to be one of the most familiar skills we dig into this year. After all, the majority of canners start their food preservation career with a batch of jam.
What is Jam?
For our purposes, we’re going to define jam as a fruit-based preserve that is sweetened. Sugar is the most traditional sweetener, but you can also use honey, maple, agave, coconut sugar, fruit juice concentrates, or non-sugar sweeteners (just remember that jam made without any true sugar will not hold its color or quality for long). And, if you’re curious about making jam with these alternative sweeteners, make sure to check out my book, Naturally Sweet Food in Jars!
What Style of Jam to Make?
There are no rules as to the style of jam you make. You can go large batch or small, conventionally sweetened or low sugar, added pectin or pectin free, and sweet or savory. If there’s a style you’ve been wanting to try and you’ve thus far avoided it in your preserving life, consider taking it for a spin.
There are more jam recipes in the archives of this site than I have time to count and there are yet still more in my cookbooks. Beyond that, there are hundreds of jam recipes online and in the many canning cookbooks out there. However, you really don’t need a recipe to make jam. Prep some fruit. Measure out approximately half as much sugar. Combine them until the sugar dissolves. Add a little lemon juice and perhaps some cinnamon or vanilla paste. Cook it in a low, wide pan until it thickens.
However, if you want to work with a more proper recipe, here are some of my recent favorites.
- Low sugar apricot strawberry jam
- Honey sweetened strawberry vanilla jam
- Low sugar strawberry vanilla jam
- Simple apricot jam
- Tomato jalapeno jam
- Yellow plum apricot jam
- Tiny batch gooseberry jam
- Strawberry ginger jam
- Low sugar blackberry rhubarb jam
- Small batch vanilla rhubarb jam
- Small batch strawberry balsamic jam
- Sweet cherry rhubarb jam
This month, the deadline for submitting your projects to be counted in the monthly tally is Wednesday, June 28. I’ll have the form up next week for submissions. And don’t forget to use the hashtag #fijchallenge if you post your project to social media!
Monday is jam-a-palooza. I’m making four kinds at last count and had to pick up some more jars. At least one is bound to be Challenge-worthy.
I’m not challenge-ready but I did my first jam-making experiment this week: a little 4-jar batch of cranberry rhubarb jam. Hubby, who loves tart things, thought 1 cup of sugar might be too much but he likes the jam. Me? It makes me wink and sneeze it’s so tart. I’m going to make a second little batch with twice the sugar and mark the jars his and hers. Just doing freezer canning so far.