Don’t overcook your delicious homemade jam – count on one of these 4 methods to successfully check the jam setting point.
Making jam or jelly with prepared pectin is supposed to be an easy project. Add the pectin, bring to a boil, boil for 2 minutes and voila! Perfectly prepared jam. It doesn’t always work like this, but basically you, the cook, don’t have to think too much about it.
Using the natural pectin found in your ingredients though requires a bit more finesse. Don’t worry, it still isn’t a difficult process and the little bit of extra work is worth the added flavor.
There are a few ways to test jams and jellies for correct consistency. Use whichever one of these methods work best for you.
- The plate method. I used this method for decades with excellent results. Drop some of the cooking jam onto a glass plate and put it in the refrigerator for a minute. If the jam sets up to the level you like (there is no such thing as the “right” level, only the level you prefer) remove the cooking jam from the heat and ladle it into jars.
- Cold plate method. Similar to above, cool a glass plate in the freezer until it is cold. Drop some of the cooking jam onto the plate. Draw a spoon through the jam. If the line stays separated, the jam is done.
- Spoon method. Using a metal spoon, stir the cooking jam and then lift it out of the mixture. If the jam comes off the spoon in a sheet, it has successfully thickened. It may be difficult for you to correctly judge the thickness if you are new to jam making. I also find berry jams difficult to judge this way and end up over cooking them.
- Temperature method. This method is the easiest, with a caveat. Jam is usually set when the temperature reaches 8-9 degrees above the temperature of boiling water. Water usually boils at 212 degrees, but not always. Several things can affect the temperature, including altitude and barometric pressure. So, if you choose to use this method, check today’s boiling water temperature first. Otherwise you may end up with burnt jam from cooking too long.