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A Jam Expert’s Best Tips And Tricks For Flavourful Jams, Jellies And Preserves

Does riper fruit make for more flavourful jam? Plus more common preserving questions, answered!

An extreme close-up photo of strawberry jam

(Photo: Carmen Cheung. Food styling: Lindsay Guscott.)

Camilla Wynne wrote the book on making inventive, flavourful jams, jellies and preserves. (Literally: Jam Bake was published earlier this year and it’s a delicious read, packed with inventive recipes for preserves and baked goods.) Here, Wynne shares her best jam-making tips and tricks.

What are the main differences between traditional, freezer and chia jam?

Traditional jam involves sterilizing jars in a hot water bath; it can be stored, unopened, for at least a year in the pantry. Freezer jam often uses pectin as a thickener, and must be stored in the fridge or freezer. Chia jam can be refrigerated or frozen, although not for as long as freezer jam.

Does riper fruit make for more flavourful jam?

There’s often a misconception about what fruit is best for jam making. Overripe fruit works well for freezer or chia jam, since both have added thickening agents. However, fruit loses some of its natural pectin as it ripens, so, for traditional jam, use a mix of 75 percent perfectly ripe fruit and 25 percent slightly underripe fruit.

Do I really need a kitchen scale to make jam?

Weight is the most precise measurement, which is crucial when it comes to measuring fruit or sugar. I highly recommend picking up an affordable digital scale for the best possible results.

A portrait of Jam Bake author Camilla Wynne holding a plum alongside a photo of her cookbook

(Photograph: Mickaël A. Bandassak)

How do I know a no-pectin jam is set?

Freeze a plate a few hours before making jam. Dollop 1 tsp jam on cold plate and return to freezer for 2 min. Remove and nudge jam with your finger; if it wrinkles, it’s ready.

Can altitude affect my jam?

Yes! You may need to add extra heat-processing time to ensure jam won’t grow mould or bacteria. Google the altitude where you live and consult an “altitude adjustment for home canning” chart.