Jam Making Equipment for Perfect Jam and Jelly
Why do I need jam making equipment? Why should I make jam and jelly?
There's nothing like home made jam and jelly, especially if you use fruits and vegetables from the garden or pick them from the wild. Take advantage of that autumn glut of cheap and free food to make homemade jams and jellies.
Frugality is not the only reason for making your own conserves, take a look at my own personal list of why you should consider preserving your produce - there are so many reasons to preserve the best of summer and autumn bounty.
"Do I need special equipment?" You can make jam and jelly without special equipment and I'm always keen to avoid buying 'stuff' that I don't need (my friend has a pineapple peeling machine - we live in France) but equally, I do like to invest in the tools I need for a job, either to do it better or to do it more efficiently ... and then expect to use these tools for life.
This is a list of the equipment and utensils that I have and that I think you will need to make jam in larger quantities or if you make jam often together with why I think it's worthwhile buying special utensils for making your own jam. Take a look and see if you agree with me.
How to Make Perfect Jams and Jellies - My favourite jam and jelly cookbook
It was this Hamlyn book that my Grandmother passed on to me that got me started with jam and jelly making. It was "500 recipes jams pickles chutneys" written by Marguerite Patten, published in 1963 and it cost 2 shillings and 6d.
Why Make Your Own Jam and Jelly?
There's nothing like home made jam!
Time is short so why should I make my own jams and jellies? Good questions. I make my own jam and jelly for several reasons. I live in an old farmhouse in Limousin, South West France, called 'the bread basket of France' and it is so-called because everything grows here. Warm enough in summer for peaches and grapes, wet enough for raspberries and great for strawberries. The region is famous for growing apples, pears and chestnuts and well-known for cherries.
We have all this and so much more all around us and when it ripens, we get huge glutes of free fruit and seasonal fruit, such as oranges (imported from Spain) are cheap in all the shops for a short time only. It saddens me to see good fruit trampled into the ground and enrages me that we can't take advantage of all that cheap and free food.
These are not the only reasons that I make my own fruit and vegetable jam and jelly. I also love the exotic and unusual. I leaf through old recipes, many from my Grandmothers cookbooks, and find recipes such as marrow jam, parsley jelly or damson cheese - who could resist trying these? You can't buy such delights in the shops.
Finally, the food I grow in my practically organic gardens are nourished with compost, ripened in sunshine and are chemical-free. Wild food has all these advantages, plus the advantage that the nutrition and flavour has not been bred out of them in favour of size and good looks.
If you have the time you can add to this list that jam-making is a great hobby. You can take pride in making perfect and unusual homemade jams, jellies and preserves that you can feed to the family and give as gifts to your friends and loved ones. You can enter them in local produce competitions, take up gardening to grow your own or even set up a cottage enterprise and sell your goods at farmers' markets and to local shops.
Who On Earth Makes Jam These Days? - Do you make jellies, pickles and preserves?
Large Copper Jam Pan - A wonderful luxury
If you're making small quantities of jam or you make jam rarely, then a large casserole will be OK, but for me the whole point of jam-making is to use fruit and vegetables in season when it's fresh and cheap or free. Because I like to make jam from glutes of fruit, I always have a huge amount and in this case it's definitely worth investing in a proper, traditional jam pan.
Jam pans are wide and shallow to allow rapid boiling and evaporation so that the setting point can be reached more quickly. Pectin can easily be destroyed by over boiling so as a rule of thumb, the fruit and sugar mixture should not take up more than about one third of the pan. This is another reason for using a traditional wide and shallow jam pan.
They are copper because zinc and iron pans spoil the colour and flavour of jam.
Jam pans have handles - apparently so that they can be hung up when not in use. I hang mine up in the kitchen, but only to save space - I didn't know until now that closing your pan up, unused for months can give a musty smell to your pan.
Jam Pans are Very Decorative - I think my traditional, French, copper pan gives the kitchen that farm house feel
Jam Thermometer - the best way to find the setting point.
You Will Need Weighing Scales
I like traditional balance scales
Not the best photo - I'll go back when the kitchen is a bit lighter - but you can see what I'm talking about. These old fashioned balance scales are hard to find unless you pay a small fortune, I had to go to Turkey to get these, but I prefer them to the modern ones because they'll last forever and can't go wrong. (I know I'm a little on the eccentric side!)
Kitchen Balance Scales - The old and the new
You will also need the following jam-making items:
- Ladle - A large ladle is great for ladling the jam into the jam pots
A simple, large ladle, good for jam making but also perfect for soup.
- Jam Funnel - Makes filling jam jars so easy
It simply isn't worth struggling without a jam funnel. Jam funnels are cheap as chips and a great tool. You can get your ladle and fill jars quickly and easily with a wide mouth funnel like this.
Mine doesn't have this handy little handle which I think would be helpful as the funnel does get very hot.
- Jelly Bag or Cheese Muslin - Use either to strain you jelly
I have cheesecloth left over from when I used to make cheese from the milk my two goats produced and now that I no longer have goats I use the cloth to make jelly. I tie the cloth at the top, put a bit of string through the not and suspend it from my top kitchen cupboard handles. The choice is yours.
The Norpro Jelly Strainer Stand with Bag This is a neat jelly bag that comes complete with stand to make it easy to leave to drip overnight.
I use the old fashioned cheesecloth for my jam.
Wooden Spoons, Chopping Board and Other Sundries - Of course you'll have most small things in your kitchen
There are various small things that you'll also need, so here is my far from exhaustive list of bits and bobs that you'll probably already have in your kitchen:
- Long handled wooden spoon Choose a wooden spoon (not a metal one) to stir the jam. A long handle means you can stir without the hot jam splashing your hand. If possible, get one that can't sink into the jam - happens all the time with me.
- Perforated metal spoon This is to skim off jam.
- Chopping board To chop your fruits
- Lemon squeezer
Jam Making Kit - This preserving set would make a wonderful gift for a cook
Retro Jam Making Set The Ultimate Jam making sealing and labelling set! Contains aluminium Retro style gift presentation box including a jam funnel , jelly bag, Jam thermometer, sealing and labeling set and jam recipes. Pity they don't show the picture of the 1950s style box. This would make a lovely gift.
Jam Jars - I save my old jars and recycle them
You can save old jars, recycle them and they are fine. If you want to pretty them up a bit for gifts, buy or make little caps. Remember that you will have to sterilize top and jar before putting your jam in.
When we sell our honey, though, we always use new jars, so you might want to buy new jars for selling or for jars of jam and jelly made to give as gifts. I've chosen three that I think are pretty.
Jam Discs, Jam Labels and Decorations - Finish your jam with attractive labels and tops
I don't use jam discs - those small rounds of waxed paper to put on top of the jam to keep off molds, but I know my great aunts and grandmother did. I didn't find these easily on Amazon although they are included in some of the kits below. Perhaps you could just cut your own from baking parchment / paper.
I don't bother to label my jams - sometimes with dire results (how to tell apple or peach jam from apple or peach chutney?) but if I did - and I should - I'd just use cheap, all-purpose labels.
If I were to sell my jam or give it away as gifts, that would be a different matter altogether and I would take care to find pretty and suitable labels.
I would also make nice little mop cap hats for my jam and tie them up with a ribbon, or bit of string. I might decorate them with raffia, cinnamon sticks, twigs - I don't know what! I would use pinking shears to cut my little caps but you can also buy them. Have a look at the Meri Meri kit below with labels and matching fabric tops.
Crystal Jam Pot Poster
You can order this poster and personalize it
I inherited this crystal jam pot so long ago that I really can't remember where it came from or how old it is, but I do love it. Not only is it pretty on the breakfast table, but it keeps the jam clean and provides somewhere to put the spoon. I feel it adds a touch of old fashioned charm and luxury to a meal. Click on this image to go to my shop and see this crystal jam pot poster and many more of my designs from France on a whole range of gifts and cards that you can customize.
Such pretty pots for serving your jam
I just love jam pots. I treasure the ones my grandmother gave me. They are pretty additions to the table but very practical too as they have a lid to keep the jam clean and a spoon that stays inside the pot.
How To Make Strawberry Jam - Strawberries are the top favourite for jam making
Strawberries are easy to grow and multiply like mad so you're sure to get a huge glut once they start to ripen. Making jam is just one way to preserve your strawberries for later.
How to make strawberry jam
They make it look so easy!
More Jam and Jelly Recipes From Les Trois Chenes
- Medlar jam
Medlars are an unusual, old fashioned fruit
- Peach jam
Every year we have a huge glut of peaches
- Marrow and ginger jam
Do you know some people actually throw marrows (overgrown courgettes / zucchini) away?
- Medlar Jelly Recipe
A beautiful, clear, amber jelly
Customized Cards and Gifts
Perfect gifts for cooks and jam makers
I have a whole range of cards and gifts that I sell through my on line Zazzle shop. Personalize your card and with your own text and images for that very special message. Have a look at Medlars, Apples and Lemons for Jam Making Cards!
© 2014 Barbara Walton
Are You A Jam Maker? - Or have I tempted you to try it? I'd love to hear from you
Barbara Walton (author) from France on January 13, 2016:
It is certainly a good way to preserve your glut of fruit for winter. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.
Hangryfork.com on January 09, 2016:
If I had access to free fruit, I'd become a jam maker for sure!