Easy Homemade Jam: Hints and Tips

Becky Low
Dairy Farmers of Utah

Impressive homemade jam is easy, tastes great, and makes wonderful gifts. Rather than a recipe this week, following are tips and hints to make perfect homemade jams.

* The gel, characteristic to jams and jellies, is created by a combination of acid, sugar and pectin.

* Freezer jam is the easiest and quickest to make. Cooked jams will require a water bath process to ensure proper shelf life. For more information, see USDA home canning guidelines www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/publications_usda.html

* For ease and convenience, use commercial pectin. Jams and jelly may be made without added pectin, but the jam must be cooked and/or low pectin fruits combined with high pectin fruits. Follow USDA guidelines at address above.

* Select fresh ripe fruit.

* Follow directions on pectin box exactly. The strength or formulation of pectin varies by brand and type of pectin, which creates variations in preparation methods. Follow instructions that come with the box of pectin.

* Use low or no sugar pectin if a reduced or no sugar jam is desired.

* Measure accurately fruit, sugar, juice and pectin.

* Avoid using a blender or food processor to crush fruit. Puree may not gel properly. Use a potato masher, fork, or chop with a knife to prepare fruit.

* Avoid doubling or cutting the recipe in half.

* Store jams and jellies in refrigerator for 3 weeks, or freeze for up to 1 year.

* Enjoy homemade jam on warm bread with butter, or try on pancakes as a substitute for syrup.

* For help and questions, contact your local Utah State University Extension office. All county offices may be located in phone directory or on the USU Extension web site http://extension.usu.edu/

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