Are you ready to cook up some jams? While Ward’s offers a delicious selection of jams for all your needs, sometimes you may want to make your own. Whether you’re looking to save money, get creative in the kitchen, or create a healthier version of your favorite, homemade jam can be just as delicious as store-bought. It doesn’t have to be difficult, either. With a little help from us at Ward’s, you’ll be enjoying your homemade jam in no time!
You’ll want to gather everything you need to make your jam, including all the necessary equipment and ingredients. There’s nothing worse when starting a new recipe than realizing you don’t have what you need on hand. Oh, and maybe cue up the playlist so you can “jam” while you jam!
Minimal equipment is needed, which makes jam a treat that almost anyone can whip up with ease. What you will need is:
- A large, heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven: the large surface area of a 10-inch pan or similar provides ample room for evaporation, leaving behind a delicious mixture of reduced sugar, fruit, and water. A heavy pan is preferred, as this prevents the fruit from scorching over the heat.
- A heatproof spatula or wooden spoon: metal utensils may react chemically as the heat rises, so stirring with a heat-resistant spatula or wooden spoon prevents any unwanted reactions as the temperatures rise.
- Sterilized jars: when storing jam after cooking, use sterilized and heatproof glass jars. Jam needs to be sealed while still hot from cooking to prevent molding. You can also reuse cleaned jars that previously held store-bought jam to reduce waste!
Commercially made jams are known to include large amounts of sugar and far less fruit than you’d expect. While there are some healthier options available, making your own jam enables you to choose exactly how much sugar is used. Choose from our large selection of locally grown produce, and you can support local farmers in our community. Picking in-season fruits may end up helping you save money, too!
- Fruit: While nearly all fruits are jam-making options, we suggest picking a fruit that is ripe, in season, and sounds tasty to you. If you’re a beginner, start with fruits high in pectin like apples, citrus, or berries. Pectin is a naturally occurring soluble fiber in ripe fruits and acts as a setting agent in jams. Fruits with high pectin will thicken easily when cooked with sugar, which makes for great results.
- Sugar: Sugar is essential when it comes to helping create the gelled texture in jams. While sugar helps to sweeten the flavor, it also acts as a preservative that keeps your jam mold-free as well as colorful. Lower sugar jams often need extra pectin to prevent a runny texture.
- Acid: Acids are important in helping jam to set more quickly. A readily available acid like lemon juice helps to firm things up without too much trouble. Pectin can also play double duty here, as it’s a widely-used acid. Add a tablespoon of powdered pectin into your pot, and all your runny jam problems are solved!
Making Your Jam
Cooking up a batch of jam is a breeze! This strawberry jam recipe is a simple recipe that is great for beginners and only takes about 40 minutes. If you’re feeling creative, feel free to play with some add-ins. Jam doesn’t have to be made using only one fruit. Add a bit of apple, orange, cherries, or blueberries for an unexpected twist.
Jam can last up to a month in the refrigerator or up to a year in the freezer. Always remember to store your jam in sealed and sterilized jars, and label the date to make sure they aren’t consumed past their prime. Save money and reduce your waste by investing in some reusable jars available at Ward’s.
10 Ways to Use Your Jam
Now that you’re a jam-making pro, it’s time to find ways to enjoy your creation! While simple toast and jam is delicious enough, here are 10 unique ways to enjoy your jam:
- Serve ice cream with warm jam on top. We recommend apple or peach!
- Mix jam in with your favorite yogurt for a fresh new snack.
- Wow your taste buds with a dollop of jam on top of plain cheesecake.
- Grilling some pork or chicken? Use jam as your glaze!
- Blend jam, milk, and protein powder together for a fun post-workout drink.
- Make an indentation in your muffin batter and drop in one teaspoon of jam to make “surprise muffins.”
- Fill donuts or pastries with jam.
- Shake some into a cocktail for a jammin’ happy hour.
- Mix jam into your pancake batter for a breakfast sure to surprise!
- Making a large batch? Gift a few jars to friends and family—nothing says “I love you” like homemade jam!
Fill Your Jam Making Needs at Ward’s
You’re all set to get to jamming! Don’t forget to stock up at Ward’s for the freshest, tastiest jam ingredients and supplies. Shopping at Ward’s is good for you, good for the planet, and good for the community.