Summer is a great time to learn and try new things; whether that be gardening, a new outdoor activity, or in this case a new recipe. Summer is THE time to try new recipes that require fresh fruit since most fruits are their ripest in the summer. If you’ve never tried before, this is the season to try homemade jam!

Jam is simple and easy to make and can be done as a family too. Jam not only tastes great, but it also lasts for a long period of time and makes a great gift all year round. With that being said, here is a fun and easy way to make jam from your fresh summer fruits.

How to Make Jam

Before you begin the process of making jam, you need to make sure you have the right ingredients to do so. Be sure to get fresh and local fruit to get the best quality finished product. You can support local farmers when purchasing your fruit by shopping at Countryside Farmers’ Market at Howe Meadow, and this is a great time to meet a local farmer because they may sell day-old fruits for less. Day-olds or “seconds” are perfect fruits for jam because they have great taste but are one day past market perfection and therefore priced for less usually. Some popular fruits to make jam include:

  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Raspberries
  • Apricots
  • Apples
  • Blackberries

Likewise, you will need sugar and some sort of natural acids such as acid from a lemon or lime. Once you have these ingredients, you can begin making jam.

 

Step 1: Cut the fruit into even smaller pieces and mash it with sugar

The first step to making jam is making the fruit small enough to be mashed easily. Depending on the size of your fruit, you will need to cut your fruit into halves or even quarters. It’s a good rule of thumb to use about four pounds of fruit for your batch of summer jam.

Next, you will need a potato masher or sturdy pastry blender (don’t use an electric mixer, it’s not the same!) to mash the fruit together with the sugar; this will release moisture and allow the fruit to cook faster and more thoroughly. When it comes to how much sugar to use, it’s best to use about ¼ cup – ¾ cup of sugar per pound of fruit.

 

Step 2: Boil the fruit for 20 minutes

Bring your fruit to a boil over medium heat and be sure to stir every few minutes. You will see bubbles filled with juice begin to form. At first they will be large, then they will get smaller as the jam gets closer to being done.

To know when the jam is done, dribble some onto a frozen spoon, wait for it to cool, and then run your finger or a toothpick through it. If the jam is done, you will be able to make a clear path with your finger or toothpick without it filling in. If the jam comes together, then it needs to boil longer and be stirred a bit more.

How to make jam

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman

 

Step 3: Storing your summer jam

When your jam is finally done, you will want to store it correctly so it doesn’t go bad and you get optimal use out of it. The best way to store jam is in jars, specifically mason jars with new lids. Make sure the jars are clean so that the jam doesn’t get contaminated. Cover the jars, and make sure that jam cools completely before you put them in the fridge for short term storage or freezer for long term storage. For more detailed information on proper canning techniques, we recommend reviewing the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning.

 

Try Making Jam Today

As the summer months are upon us, look into trying new activities and things to do, and make creating jam one of them. There are endless possibilities when it comes to making jam or you can simply eat it on tomorrow’s toast! No matter what you choose, you won’t regret making jam with your fresh summer fruit.

 

About the Author

Kelsey Simpson enjoys writing about things that can help others. She lives in South Jersey and is the proud companion to two German Shepherds and spends her free time volunteering in dog shelters.

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