Here is a list of the things you need to start making jam. I have a list of the bare essentials, and a list of a few other things you could buy if you were making jam more regularly.
These are all things you will most likely have at home.
- A heavy based pan
You need a pan with a heavy, solid, base to ensure the jam heats up evenly. A large one such as a decent sized pasta pan, or a pressure cooker pan, should do the job. Larger ones are generally better because they help the evaporation process of some of the liquid in the fruit that is so important to letting the pectin get to work.
Tip- if you are using a pan that is used for other cooking, sometimes the pan can retain some strong smells. If you feel the pan smells of other food, just boil up a couple of cups of water with a cinnamon stick, some cloves or some cardamom pods, for about half an hour. Your house will smell amazing, but most importantly, so will your pan!
- A wooden spoon
This is for stirring the jam. If you have one reserved for baking, use this rather than one used for curries or strong flavoured savory dishes.
- A side plate
This is for testing the set of the jam. Any China or similar plate will do, just pop it in the freezer when you start your jamming session. NB other setting test methods are available, so this is not completely essential but it is in my opinion the easiest way.
- A glass jar
This is for putting your lovely jam in. You can use plastic tubs but it won’t last as long. If you want to keep the jam for any length of time you need a glass jar which you sterilize at the start of the jam making session. Reusing jars is totally fine, and in fact makes the planet happy 😊 Just check that the lids are really clean and if any doubt buy new lids from eBay or elsewhere.
Here’s a few things you might want to buy to make jam if you want to, but are by no means essential.
- A maslin pan
This is a heavy bottomed steel pan that is wider at the top than at the bottom. It makes evaporation quicker so your jam sets quicker. It also means you have a pan just reserved for jam making so no worries about any smells or cross contamination of allergens if giving or selling your jam.
- A really long wooden spoon
This makes stirring the jam easier and avoids risk of splashes of hot jam hitting you when the jam is on a rolling boil.
- A jam funnel
This is the red funnel in the pic. If you only bought one bit of extra kit I would say get this. It makes filling your jars with jam so much easier.
- A jam thermometer
This sits on the side of your pan to check the temperature. If the temperature is 105°C (some people say a degree or so below is fine) then you should have a set. A jam thermometer should have this marked on it so it’s different to other cooking thermometers. I don’t really get on with my jam thermometer so I prefer to test with other methods, but I still use the thermometer to see that I am potting the jam whilst still really hot. Jam should be potted whilst still hot to avoid growth of bacteria, which grows most in the region of 8°-60°C. If you leave the jam for ten minutes or so to allow fruit pieces to disperse throughout the jam it is even more important to check the temperature when potting it up.
- A fine mesh sieve
This is for getting rid of seeds in jams such as raspberry jam, if you prefer to. You cook the fruit then run through the sieve before continuing with your recipe. I’ve never done this before as I like seeds, but I bought this sieve so that I could try out making seedless jam, or just removing some of the seeds as you do get a lot of seeds if you leave the jam as is (with raspberry jam anyway, I haven’t tried making other seeded jams).