You may have noticed that I like to make jam. Like a lot. Dayton FOX45 asked me to put together a segment on jamming basics. I thought I’d pass on some of my knowledge and helpful links to you! (And to those of you who have found me via Dayton’s News Source.) This is the first part of my three part blog series. Look for posts on Jamming Resources Thursday and an Easy Beginner’s Jam recipe for Friday.
You Need the Right Equipment to Jam!
There is not a lot of wiggle room in terms of equipment. You need at least the bare necessities to make lasting jam safely. Here is a list of equipment that I use to create jam for Thistle.
(1) A large, non-reactive pot. The wider the better. Jam made in a wider pan will cook more quickly (water evaporates faster) and will have a deeper flavor because more fruit comes in direct contact with the heat source than in a narrower pan. Some prefer a dutch oven or copper jam pan. I prefer to use a stainless steel Maslin pan, like this one.
(2) Water Bath Canner. If you are just getting started, go with this kit from Ball, as it will include other useful tools.
(3) Funnel, Lid Magnet, and Jar Lifter. These are the three essentials. The basic kit from Ball will do, but I use this stainless steel set from Norpro.
(4) Seives. I do not use a jelly bag, and advise you not to, either. You can place a cheese cloth inside a conical sieve. Sieves are more multipurpose and I hate having singular use items in my kitchen. I go with the Chinois strainer to make jellies.
(5) Candy thermometer. Jam reaches a boiling point at 212 degrees. The setting point for most jams is 220 degrees, though there is variation in this. Some jams will set well before they reach 220. But without a reliable thermometer, it is harder to tell. There are tricks and tips, which I’ll share later.
(6) Kitchen Scale. It is more reliable to weigh the fruit and sugar to ensure a proper ratio. Without the right ratio of sugar, acid and fruit the jam will not set or may not last!
(7) Jars. Start with basic Ball jars. Once you get comfortable with jamming, you can move up to Weck jars and cellophane seals, as the Europeans do. I’m still experimenting with this method of canning myself.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There is a lot of specialty equipment out there. If you are just getting into canning and jamming, start with the basics I have listed above, learn what techniques and tools you like, and buy equipment that suits your needs.