Jam is a generic name for any fruit preserve made by the fruit setting (typically from the berry family) with sugar and sometimes additional pectin as a preservative.
The spread can be made on the stovetop or over an open fire, like jamming in its original sense.
Jam usually contains more fruit than preserves, which can contain pieces of rind and marrow as well.
The modern world has made jam a marketable commodity, with many variations on color, flavor, and consistency becoming available.
These products can be purchased in stores or online.
The texture of jam is a key consideration when purchasing, as it varies from thick and gummy to runny.
Thickened jam tends to be more expensive than its unthickened counterpart due to the extra production process involved.
In this article, we will look at the thickening process and see whether or not it is worth the extra expense.
How to Make Jam at Home?
Jam is a delicious spread that comes in a variety of flavors, using different fruits or berries.
Making your own jam can be both cheap and fun. However, jam-making is a bit different from canning jams.
Although both methods involve using sugar and pectin to preserve the fruit, stewed fruits have a softer texture than jellies do.
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to make jam at home in the easiest way possible.
1 – Ingredients.
- Ripe Fruit.
Pick fruit that is ripe and fresh but not overripe.
Fruit overripe may be hard to digest.
A good way to check if the fruit has ripened fully is by smelling them.
If they smell sweet enough, then it’s ready for jam-making.
2 – Equipment.
- Jars/ Containers.
It is best to use wide-mouth jars or containers so you can get your hand in there easily for stirring.
Make sure they are sterilized before pouring in a jam.
- Sheet of Cheesecloth.
A sheet of cheesecloth will help filter out the solids when straining the jam after it has cooled down.
If you want, you can use a coffee filter instead.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons.
You will need different sized measuring cups to measure out the fruit, sugar, and lemon juice.
Measuring spoons are also important to help with adding the ingredients correctly.
3 – Directions.
- Prepare the Fruit.
It is best to prepare the fruit a day before you make jam.
On that day, wash and remove any stems or leaves from your choice of fruits.
Slice them up into small pieces.
However, if your fruit is already sliced, then it is okay.
You can start with step 2 right away.
- Combine the Fruit.
To your fruit, add lemon juice.
This will help preserve the color and flavor of the fruit.
It also helps prevent mold from growing on the fruit if kept in an airtight container or jar for months before eating.
Mix together all ingredients thoroughly until they are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
Make sure to scrape any blueberry seeds off the sides of the bowl.
- Measure the Sugar.
For every cup of mashed fruit, you will need one cup of sugar.
It is best to use plain granulated white sugar since it has no additives or coloring that may change the flavor and color of your jam.
You can adjust how much sugar you want to use according to your preference, but keep in mind that the more sugar is used, the sweeter and thickens the jam.
Mix together your fruit and sugar until they are evenly mixed.
You can either squish them with a potato masher or just stir them together with a spoon.
Do not mash the fruit too much; the texture should remain relatively chunky-looking.
It will be harder to strain out later when you are pouring the jam into the jars if you over-mash it.
- Pour It Into Jars.
Pour your fruit and sugar mixture into sterilized jars or containers.
Fill the jar up to within an inch of the rim.
Make sure to leave plenty of space at the top so you can swirl the contents later when you stir.
- Put the Lid on Tightly.
Put your jar/container with lids tightly shut and store it in a warm place for 12-24 hours.
Make sure you have them all facing the same direction so that when they expand, they don’t bump into each other or break.
You can seal down the top with aluminum foil or plastic wrap, as well.
Why Your Jam Become Runny?
When you are making jam at home, it is important to have the right amount of sugar and pectin to get a thick texture.
If your jam looks too runny, then it means you may not have enough sugar or pectin in a jam.
Try using more pectin or sugar in your recipe to adjust the consistency of your jam accordingly.
When baking or cooking jam, the most important thing is to know how long you should keep it in the oven.
Many recipes say to cook jam on low heat for at least an hour.
However, it is best to check for doneness earlier than that.
When you smell your jam during this time, there should be a slight smell of burnt sugar.
This means it was cooked at the right temperature, and now you can start to take it out.
If your jam still is not setting up even though you have cooked it long enough, try adding more pectin or less sugar.
As you keep experimenting with your recipes, you will start to learn the right consistency for your jam.
Why Your Jam Have Lumps?
When making homemade jams, sometimes they can have lumps or chunks in them.
There are two main reasons why this happens.
One is when a piece of fruit gets stuck on the side of the bowl while you are mashing the fruit.
The other is sugar that has not dissolved in the mixture.
When making jam, it is important not to use regular white sugar that contains artificial sweeteners or additives.
These types of sugars will cause lumps to be formed in your jam because they do not dissolve as well in water.
Instead, use sugar that is 100% cane sugar.
It is important to get all the pulp out from the skins and seeds of your fruit before adding it to your mixture.
When you are straining out the blueberries, be sure not to mash them more than required.
This will make sure there are no lumps in your jam that you have to remove.
How to Thicken Jam?
Making jam often results in a runny mixture that is too thin for your liking.
Luckily, you can easily thicken it up without any extra effort on your part.
The perfect consistency of homemade jams should be relatively thick and also have some soft chunks in it.
If it is still too thin after cooking, consider using the following tips to thicken it up:
1 – Using Gelatin
Gelatin is a popular ingredient added to jams or jellies before refrigerating to thicken up the consistency.
It contains no fat, which is why it is perfect for thickening homemade jam recipes.
Try finding powdered gelatin in boxes or packages at your local grocery store. It comes around 25 cents per box and is definitely worth it, considering how much less effort it takes to use gelatin than cornstarch.
All you need to do is stir a tablespoon of the powder into your homemade jam mixture before cooking–this should give it a nice, thick texture.
2 – Using Cornstarch
Cornstarch is a popular ingredient that can be used to thicken homemade jam as well.
The benefit of using cornstarch over gelatin is that you do not need to cook it first–you just add it in at the end.
In fact, we recommend mixing your cornstarch with a little bit of cold water first.
Then, add the mixture to your jam while you are cooking it over low heat.
This should thicken up your homemade jam right away.
3 – Use Chia Seeds
If your jam is still too thin even after the previous two tips, try using chia seeds.
Add about 1-2 tablespoons of the seeds into your mixture and stir them in well.
You can add them at any point while you are cooking–it does not matter when.
Another interesting fact about this ingredient is that it will help your jam stay fresh for longer.
Chia seeds are a popular ingredient in many jams and jellies because of the health benefits they offer.
Now that you know how to make and thicken the jam, it is time to experiment with different recipes for yourself.
Many simple methods can be used to thicken your jam, such as gelatin or cornstarch.
Also, chia seeds can be a handy substitute too. Give these tips a try and see what you think.