Allyson Gofton - Jam It!

Publish Date
Friday, 15 January 2016, 2:35PM
By Allyson Gofton

There isn't space here to give a comprehensive lesson in jam-making but here are a few pointers.

  • Fruit for jams and jellies, frozen or not, should be ripe but not over-ripe – if you're picking your own, don't do it immediately after rain but on a sunny day.
  • Make sure no fruit is damaged by bruising or brown rot.
  • Jam, marmalade and jelly fruit must have sufficient pectin and acid to set with the sugar; if they don't, fruit with those properties must be included, of which apple is best and doesn't change the flavour to any extent.
  • It's almost impossible to be emphatic about the length of time jam and jelly – although berry jams are short cooking - should cook as it largely depends on the pectin and acid in the fruit and the quantity of added sugar. Thus it may take a bit of trial and error until you are able to judge the setting point – too much cooking and you may finish up with toffee, too little and you'll have a runny fruit sauce!
  • When the jam seems to be thickening, keep stirring to prevent sticking on the bottom of the pan and test it on a cold saucer; you can also judge by how it drops from the wooden spoon whether it's ready to test or not. Drop about a teaspoon on a cold saucer and leave for a few minutes – taking the pan off the heat to prevent further cooking. When the jam is cool, if a finger dragged through it leaves a channel, it's ready for bottling; if it runs together again, it needs a bit more cooking.
  • The jars should have been washed, thoroughly dried and heated in the oven (120 degrees C for about 15 minutes), to avoid them cracking when the hot liquid is poured in and to ensure they are sterile. Cool jam and jelly before putting on lids. To ensure a long shelf-life (family permitting!), when the jam is cold, pour some melted paraffin wax over the top before either putting the screw lid back on or applying a cellophane cover.
  • Remember to stick a label with the type of jam/jelly and the date on the jar before storing in a cool, dry place away from direct light.

Raspberry, Rhubarb And Rosewater Jam
Sensual rosewater adds an exotic nuance to this summer jam, prepared from Dot's fleshy, sweet raspberries. Gorgeous served in small, sweet pastry-baked tarts and accompanied with softly whipped cream.

Prep Time:
15 minutes
Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes
Serves: 8 x 350 grams jars


1 kilogram raspberries, fresh or frozen
250 grams rhubarb, trimmed and finely sliced
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1.25 kilograms sugar
2 tablespoons rosewater


  1. Put the raspberries, rhubarb and lemon juice into a large stock pot or jam pan and bring slowly to the boil.
  2. Once the fruit is boiling, lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft.
  3. Gradually stir in the sugar and continue to stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, stirring only occasionally, and boil for 7-10 minutes or until the jam reaches a setting point.
  4. Remove from the heat and, using a wide, flat spoon, carefully skim off any scum that has collected around the edges. Allow the jam to sit for 10 minutes before stirring in the rosewater. Bottle the jam while it is still very hot in hot, dry, sterilised jars. Seal with cellophane jam covers while hot or, if covering with lids, seal when cold.

Cook's tips:

  • All jams have to reach a setting point if you wish them to have a thick, not runny, consistency. This also means the jams have boiled sufficiently to be "preserved" and not go off during storage. To know when a jam has reached setting point, follow these basic steps:
  1. Put a saucer in the fridge once the jam begins to boil.
  2. When 10 minutes of boiling time is up, remove the jam from the heat (so it does not continue to boil) and drop half a teaspoonful onto a cold saucer. 
  3. Stand for 30 seconds.
  4. Hold the plate to eye level and push the jam with your index finger. If you see wrinkles in the surface, the jam is ready to be bottled. If the jam is not ready, return it to the boil and test again after 5 minutes of additional cooking time.

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