Jams are thick sweet spreads for bread and crackers made by cooking chopped fruits or berries with sugar. They do tend to hold their shape, but are not as firm as jelly. You can also add pectin to the cooking process when making jam. This is a substance that causes fruit to gel. Some fruits have enough natural pectin in them that you don’t need this addition, but there are other fruits that will cook all day and will never gel without the addition.
Before you make any kind of jam, you first have to wash the fruit thoroughly, but do not soak them. Ripe fruit and berries are best. For fruit, remove the stems, skins and pits and cut the fruit into pieces and crush them. If you are using berries, remove the stems and leaves and crush. If the berries have seeds, you will have to put the crushed berries through a sieve to remove them if you don’t want to have seeds in the jam.
Place the crushed fruit or berries into a large pot with about 4 cups of sugar. For most fruit jams, you also have to add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a boil until it thickens. You will need to check on the mixture and stir it once in a while. Once the jam is gelled to your liking, remove it from the heat and let it cool. Then it is ready for you to fill jars and bottles with the fresh jam.
If you are using fruits or berries that need to have pectin added, the instructions for when you add this substance will be printed on the package. You should also add ½ teaspoon of butter to the mixture to prevent the foaming that occurs when you use pectin. Using pectin in making jam reduces the length of time you need to cook the mixture. You may have some left over after you have finished making jam. If you are not going to use it, it’s best that you throw it away because it won’t be fresh enough to use next year.