I made jam last night. I even picked the nectarines from my backyard. Yay for me!
Sooooo, in the city of Los Angeles it is very very tough to find canning jars. Most of the places I called (Osh, Home Depot, Smart&Final) no longer carried them. I ended up getting mine at Target. Next time I’ll plan ahead and order them online. For some reason pretty much every time I try and get something in an actual store it ends up being a huge headache.
If you’ve never made jam before it’s one of those funny things that’s really easy but hard at the same time. This was my first time making jam as an adult. I did it a few times as a kid with my great-grandmother. But I remember very little about the process.
I followed these instructions for nectarine jam that I found online:
So the basics. You need to sterilize your jars. You can do that by putting them in boiling water, or the dishwasher. You want the jars to be hot when you put the jam in so you don’t break the jars.
I highly suggest having the right tools. I am going to buy some jar tongs before I try canning anything again. I tried to use the regular tongs I had and it was a horrible idea. Even though I tested them out beforehand to make sure they’d pick up the jars, when the tongs got hot they didn’t work. I am going to buy some specific jar tongs.
I learned this the hard way. When I went to pick up a jar from the boiling water it dropped back into the water splashing me in the face. I ran to the sink to splash cold water on my face repeatedly. I didn’t have a lot of time, because everything has to be done hot, and right then. (You can’t let your jam boil to long or it gets weird.) I didn’t have time to run out and cut some aloe, so my solution was to then run to the fridge and rub a stick of butter on my face. Yes, yes I did. And now I’m telling you all about it.
I proceeded to make jam with a buttery face and got everything done on schedule. It was weird smelling butter for most of the night.
Some things I learned in the jam making process:
- Have the right tools.
You’re dealing with a lot of boiling/hot things. Boiling water, boiling jam. For safety it’s best to have the proper supplies. And if you plan on making more jam (which I TOTALLY DO!) it’s probably worth it just to buy the darn tongs, and a funnel.
- It’s not as hard as I thought it was going to be.
I looked all over the internet, read different recipes and instructions and at the end of the day, it’s just a recipe. A recipe like any other. If you can make cookies, you can make jam. It did take me most of the night, cause I kept re-reading the instructions and didn’t have things timed right, but I feel really confident that next time I do it, it won’t be so confusing.
- The box of pectin comes with a bunch of recipes.
Kind of like how the bag of chocolate chip cookies tells you how to make the cookies. The box of pectin tells you what you need to do and has recipes for different fruits. Pectin is what makes the jam “set”. (So it’s not runny.) Pectin comes in different varieties. Regular sugar, low sugar, and no sugar varieties. I suggest the low or no sugar. The low sugar still has a lot of sugar in my opinion, and the regular kind suggests twice as much. (3 cups of sugar for 6 cups of fruit, vs. 7 cups of sugar for 6 cups of fruit.) A little overkill in the sugar department.
Supplies you need to make jam:
- Big pot with a lid, for boiling the jars (before you put jam in them and after)
- Big pot for boiling the jam
- Jar Tongs (Get the jar tongs)
- Metal funnel (To put the jam in the jars. Unless your big jam pot has a spout for pouring.) Get the metal one, cause you can boil it to sterilize it. A plastic one you can’t sterilize cause it’ll melt.
This is what you need at the very very least. I think I’m going to go ahead and buy one of those $30 kits. Seems worth it to me.
And that my friends is how I make some jam.