With the sweet, tempting scent of warm, sugary fruit enchanting the senses, it’s not difficult to see the appeal of homemade jam. Unfortunately, few of us make our own anymore, baffled by processes we left behind in our grandmother’s kitchen. It’s a shame really – with the right tools jam making can be a breeze, and the resultant taste unbeatable.
To begin you need to select and wash your fruit. If this is your first time jam making start with raspberries – they are full of pectin so the jam will easily set, but because the skins are relatively thin they don’t need to be softened before the sugar is added. Roughly 200g of raspberries will make 500ml of jam.
Using the Judge MJ09 (£6.00) freestanding colander, give your fruit a good wash and leave to drain. Make sure all excess water is removed before cooking.
While your fruit is draining, it’s time to sterilise your preserving jars. Judge Preserving Jars are available in 250ml and 500ml sets of three from £3.75 for 3. To sterilise them you can either put them on the hottest cycle of your dishwasher, or hand wash them and pop them to dry upside down in your oven at a temperature of 140C/275F/Gas 1.
Next, you need to place two saucers in your fridge – you will use these to test if the jam is set later.
Now the fun begins! Jam is made up of equal parts fruit and sugar, so using the J416 Judge Digital Diet Kitchen Scale (£23.75), which can hold up to 5kg and has a wipe-clean weighing plate and a slim design for simple storage, measure out your required ingredients and calculate the calories too if you want! While specialist jam sugar is available, it’s really best used with low-pectin fruits, such as strawberries, to avoid a too-solid finish. With raspberries granulated white sugar works well.
If you don’t have jam sugar to hand, but wish to make strawberry jam, you can make your own pectin using lemon seeds. Squeeze your lemon with the Judge TC43 Citrus Juicer (£14.38). If your strawberries are very sweet, you can add some of the lemon juice to the mix to enhance the acidity. Otherwise, take the lemon seeds and put them in a small bowl of water in the fridge. After a few hours, strain away the excess liquid, remove the seeds and add the resultant pectin to your jam mix.
To begin cooking, pour your sugar and fruit into a Judge JA74 Maslin Pan £6.25 and heat slowly, occasionally stirring. Judge Maslin Pans are designed with a thick hot forged base ideal for long cooking periods. Made from mirror-polished stainless steel, they conduct heat evenly and efficiently, helping to ensure that your preserves cook consistently. You’ll be glad of the two handles and the easy-pour spout later in the process.
If you are only making a small quantity a smaller pan with pouring lips would do the trick, such as J305 Judge Vista draining pan (£26.75) with pouring lips, its thick hot forged base ensures an efficient even heat distribution, helping to ensure that your preserves cook consistently.
Once the sugar has completely dissolved, bring the mixture to a rapid, rolling boil – take care at this point, to avoid burns. To make sure that your jam sets, you should aim for a temperature of 220°F 104°C.
The Judge Preserving Thermometer TC161 (£7.50) will let you know when you’ve reached the magic number, then cook for a few minutes more.
Next you need to test if your jam has set. Spoon a little of the jam onto one of your refrigerated saucers, leave to cool for a few minutes, then push your finger into it. If it wrinkles, it is ready. If not, return the pan to the heat and cook the jam for a minute or two more before testing again.
Once you’re sure that the jam has set, use the Judge TB07 stainless steel ladle (£7), to carefully fill your sterilised jars. Twist the lids in place while the jam is still hot, and your preserves can be kept for up to six months.
Now all you need to do is bake a batch of scones to eat it with. Enjoy!