How to make homemade jam (with a recipe for an incredible strawberry-vanilla jam)

Making your own jam is actually easier than you think. It tastes incredible and makes a great gift to!

Before you start

The rule of thumb when cooking jam. Cooking jam requires only a bit of calculating, some stirring and cleanliness. That’s all. The most common ratio of fruit to sugar is 2:1, for example, 1 kg of fruit requires 500 gr of jam sugar (high pectin sugar). The pectin in the jam sugar ensures a proper set for homemade jams and jellies. If you are using regular sugar make sure to add pectin, either in fluid form (e.g. CERTO premium liquid fruit pectin) or as a powder (e.g. SURE JELL premium fruit pectin). Cut large fruit in smaller pieces and combine with the sugar in a pot. Turn up the heat and bring all the ingredients to the boil. Boil hard for 3 – 5 minutes. Sticking to the cooking time is crucial because, during the boiling process, the pectin develops its firming effect, which doesn’t show until the jam cooled down. If you don’t like chunky jams, you may puree the fruit.

Sterilize the jars and their lids to get rid of any bacteria. Either put them in the sink (lids unscrewed from jars) and cover them with boiling water from the kettle, filling the jars with the water; or simmer them, completely immersed, in a very large pan of boiling water for 10 minutes; or lay the jars and lids on a baking tray in the oven and heat them at around 100°C/225°F. And if you have a good dishwasher with a very hot cycle you can sterilize them in there as well.

The wrinkle test is a simple way to check if you jam has the right consistency. Spoon a little jam onto a cold saucer. Leave for 30 secs, then push with your finger; if the jam wrinkles and doesn’t flood to fill the gap, it is ready. If not, turn the heat back on and boil for 2 mins more, then turn off the heat and do the wrinkle test again. Repeat until ready.

Create a vacuum. Ladle the boiling hot jam into the sterilized jars,  filling to just below the rim. Close the jars with a lid and turn them upside down for 10 minutes. Turn the jars back up again and wait until fully cooled. With this simple method, your jam will be hermetically sealed and can be stored for up to 1 year in a cool, dry place. Refrigerate after opening.

Strawberry - Vanilla Jam

  • Servings: 3 - 4 jars
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1kg of ripe strawberries washed and hulled, large berries cut in half
  • 500g of jam sugar (high pectin sugar) / alternatively 500g of regular sugar + 1 pouch of fruit pectin
  • 1 vanilla pod

Preparation

  1. Halve the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds. Combine the seeds with the strawberries and sugar in a pot.

  2. Turn up the heat and bring all ingredients to the boil. Boil hard for 3 – 5 mins, then turn off the heat. Make the wrinkle test (see above).

  3. Use a spoon to carefully skim any foam off the top of the jam and discard this. Do this only once at the end, rather than constantly during the boiling stage, to reduce wastage.
  4. Ladle the hot jam into sterilized jars, filling to just below the rim. Close the jars with a lid, turn them upside down for 10 minutes to create a vacuum and hermetically seal the jars.

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