Do people even eat jam? + How to make (low sugar) blackberry jam

I know I do, but I sometimes wonder whether it is just a force of habit or whether I actually like jam. I know that my parents have been growing fruit and making their own jam for a really long time, so it is definitely a really important part of my life. More significant is the act of making the jam – mornings with a huge pot on the stove and the smell of citrus or fruits drifting through the house. But I was vaguely horrified when I learnt that jam is usually one part fruit to one part sugar (and some water). My first instinct was that it didn’t really need to have all that sugar, and my instinct was correct! I put together a recipe for lower sugar jam, tested it out, and luckily it was a success.

My brother and I both love blackberry jam and blackcurrant jam, but I went with blackberries for this recipe. I haven’t tried it out with other fruits, but my assumption is that this recipe would likely work with pretty much anything.

I started with 1kg of cooking apples (preferably Granny Smith apples), which are crucial to this recipe. Usually the combination of sugar and fruit will cook down together and create the jelly like texture of jam. However, when you don’t add as much sugar, there is less pectin produced, which helps your jam thicken. The apples are used to replace the lost sugar. Peel and cube the apples, and cook in an inch of water in a large pot at a medium heat. When the apples are soft, mash them with a potato masher or blend with an immersion blender until relatively smooth.

Measure out 1kg of berries to match the weight of the apples. I used frozen berries here because they’re more economical, but fresh berries would work just as well. Add them to the pot, and allow the mixture to come to a simmer. When you’re sure that the heat is up, add just 100g of sugar. I used brown sugar, but if you want your jam to be clearer (if you’re using a lighter fruit) then use white sugar instead.

Cook the jam until all the sugar has dissolved. To check that your jam has cooked for long enough, put a little on a plate or in a small bowl and put it in the fridge for fifteen or so minutes. When the jam is cool, it should be thick and jelly like. If this is the case for your jam, it’s done! To store it, pour it into hot, sterilized jar and seal them tight.

I am slightly concerned that no one really wants to know how to make jam (and this is the third jams or preserves recipe i’ve shared). However, it’s ridiculously easy and would make a perfect homemade gift for people that are impossible to buy for. To keep your costs down, bottled your jam in a recycled bottle (mine is – I don’t think my parents have ever thrown a glass jar away), place an offcut or scrap of spare fabric over the top and tie with a piece of string or decorative ribbon. Minimum effort, but it’s still a really personal and thoughtful gift.

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