Monday, August 03, 2009


I think I'm going to become one of those people who just can't make jam. Tried again this evening, this time plum jam. It's the recipe from the River Cottage Preserves book and calls just for plums, a bit of water and ordinary sugar so I reckoned it must be easy enough. But no. Boiled for just over twice the length of time given and it's even less like jam than the raspberry attempt of a few weeks ago. I definitely don't want to add any more sugar as it is already extremely sweet. If I have the energy tomorrow evening I might try re-boiling it and seeing if that helps at all. But seriously, it's like plum coloured liquid with bit of fruit floating in it - not even a pretence of setting!

I also overdried the tomatoes but ho hum. They're in a jar full of oil and some vinegar now and I'm sure I'll find them edible enough to add to a pasta dish of some kind in the winter.


dND said...

Jam is one of those things that once you get the knack of seems to work most times IMHO. I tried for ages to get a regular set and it was a very hit and miss affair.

Now I usually get it right although sometimes it's a soft set rather than a firm set and I don't use added pectin or the sugar with pectin added.

I always make sure I use the jam pan or just a small quantity in my V. large saucepan - to get the evaporation. I used to try and make double quantities to save time but found that I spent far longer trying to get it to set than making two separate batches. I also make sure it's on a good boil, hence the necessity to use a pan big enough to allow for this.

I usually add the juice of a lemon whether the recipes says so or not.

I use a jam thermometer and the flake test method to test for setting point - I've never got the chilled saucers in the freezer method to work for me.

If I have a 'failed' set then I use the jam poured over ice cream, or I reckon but haven't got round to trying yet, it would work as the base for home-made ice cream or sorbet or it would stir easily into yoghurt.

Good luck with your next batch :-)

Moonwaves said...

Hope that happens to me (the getting the knack of it I mean). I'd prefer not to have to use the sugar with pectin added. I remember when that first came out and even as a kid who didn't really know how to make jam I found the thought of it a bit creepy. Ironically I suspect jam sugar is probably one of the least processed of the processed foods but it's funny how you can take against a thing like that.

I was using a 13l stockpot which was less than half-full so I don't think that was the problem. I am still using my two ring hotplate though and may not have been getting a very hot boil. I may wait till the weekend and try and boil it all up again, adding the juice of a lemon. It was extremely sweet anyway so that would be a good addition anyway I think. I just remembered when I read your comment that I did actually buy a jam thermometer a while ago so I'll use that as a guide. What's the flake test though?

dND said...

This description of the flake test is the best I've found.

Like the poster, I tend to use it as the 'second test' after looking at the thermometer - a bit belt and brace but it works for me :-)

Anonymous said...

I am so thankful that your plum jam is the same as mine! I was beginning to feel a complete disaster (especially as my late mother was great at it!) I made a double lot so the suggestion to make smaller amounts is great.
I wondered if the heat from the cooker is not enough to bring it up to temperature. However, it did eventually soft set overnight. But I wont let this beat me, it is so frustrating. My best success was blueberry and lime