Jumbleberry Jam is my absolute favourite. It is hard to come by and so when I do I stock up and make it last for as long as I can, scraping the very last skerrick out of the jar and even using my fingers to wipe up the last drip from the plate before putting the dirty dishes in the sink. Why is it so hard to come by? Because I make it myself, that’s why. Truly, it is the best. My grandmother taught be how to make jam when I was very little. I remember her melting wax in a small pot to pour over the top of the finished jarred jam to create an airtight seal for preservation and storage. I use the 2 piece lids with the wax seal on the outside but otherwise our techniques are pretty much the same. This is how we do it.
Step 1 – You’ll need to set up a hotwater bath canner, like this one, to process the jarred jam which will seal it and keep in shelf stable for up to (or even longer than) 1 year. You also need some sterilized glass jars to put the jam in, and 2 piece lids to seal the jars. I handwash my glass jars well in hot, soapy water before putting them in the boiling-water filled canner to keep hot and sterile while I make the jam. It is important to put the hot jam quickly in to hot, sterile, jars and then back in to the hot water canner to keep bacteria at bay. I find it easy to keep every clean, hot and easily accessed by doing it this way. I remember my grandmother used to keep her clean jars in a low oven to keep them hot while preparing her jam, but she didn’t process them in the water canner the way I do (she used the melted wax to seal the jars, remember?) If you are nervous about using a hot water canner, don’t be. Here is a link to some more info if you need to do some research before going any further.
Step 2 – Pick, wash, sort and crush your berries. Any berries you like are fine. I like to use a variety to make my Jumbleberry Jam normally strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. Today I used strawberries we picked locally from the most fabulous organic farm back in May, some of which I froze in preparation for today’s Jumbleberry Jam making event. Yes, it is really so good I plan well ahead.
The blueberries are fresh from the farmers market. The blackberries are boringly from the supermarket. It is totally ok to mix and match. You’ll need 5 cups of crushed berries to make 5 large jars of Jumbleberry Jam. What I do is put the cleaned berries in a large pyrex jar and use a potato masher to crush and measure the berries at the same time (clever, huh?). Just keep adding different berries until you get to 5 cups of crushed berries. Step 3 – Once you get to 5 cups put the crushed berries in a large saucepan over high heat, add a packet of powdered pectin and 1/2 tsp of butter to the pan and start stirring. Pectin is a naturally occuring substance found in ripe fruits that can be added to jams and jellies to help them set. You can find it at the supermarket. There is also a low sugar version you can try but I’ve only ever used the full-monty, regular version.
Step 4 – Bring the berry mix to a rolling boil while stirring all the time. A full rolling boil is when the bubbles won’t dissipate even when you stir it.
Step 5 – Use the large pyrex jug to measure out 7 cups of sugar. I use regular white sugar but you can use organic, or even brown sugar if you want. Understand though that it is a lot of sugar. A LOT. That’s the truth about jam and it will shock you and make your teeth itch just to look at it, but 7 cups of processed white sugar is what you use. Pour the whole amount of sugar in to the pot and keep stirring.
Keep cooking and stirring over high heat and bring the berry and sugar mix back to a rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute.
Step 6 – Pour cooked jam in to the hot, sterile, jars and put the filled jars back in the hotwater canner to keep hot. I like to use a pair of rubber tongs to llift the jars in and out of the water, and a funnel to ladel the hot jam in to the jars. Wipe the rim of the jar with a wet paper towel before fitting the 2 piece lid on.
Step 7 – Once all the jars are filled lower the rack back in to the hotwater canner and bring the water back to a boil. Process the jars in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove them and let them cool on a wire rack.
As the jars cool you will hear the lids ‘pop’ as the changes in pressure create the airtight seal. I’ve never had a jar fail to seal before but the way you test it is by pressing gently in the centre of the lid. If it pops up and down then the seal did not work and the jam must be kept refrigerated and eaten first. Step 8 – Voila! The best homemade Jumbleberry Jam Evah! Don’t forget to print up some cute labels for your jars. Believe me, after a few months you will absolutely forget what kind of jam it is that you made and you’ll be glad you did. Homemade jam makes wonderful gifts (I think) for teachers, babysitters and friends who need a boost. I hope you try it. Making jam is easy, satisfying and a delicious treat.