Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Scummy Runny Jam and Cucumbers

I have never made jam before, for years we were supplied with homemade jam from my OH granny.  Also as I have never grown fruit and this year only managed to grow about 10 strawberries, there didn't seem much point.  If I had to buy all the fruit, it would be cheaper just to buy a jar of jam.

For the party this weekend I bought far too many strawberries and raspberries so have been left with more than the two of us can eat so I decided to make jam.  I always save spare jars for pickles etc., the method looked easy enough so I thought I would give it a go.  I should have know it would be messy as my son decided to make jam one day after school.  When I got home from work it looked like there had been a massacre in the kitchen.

First problem was how much sugar to jam, as none of the recipes had the exact amount of fruit I had.

Second problem, how do you tell if the sugar is melted.

Third problem, how do you tell if it is set, yes I know it says push your finger through it, but I still wasn't sure.

I'm sure these questions seem silly to experienced jam makers, and if I make jam again I will have more idea and learn from my mistakes, and that is a BIG IF.  The first batch didn't go too badly, two pots that may be a little too set but look good in their jars, (see above)  I then decided to make the next lot......I should have stopped at two pots!  It was boiling away, seemed to set really quickly, I took it off the heat and put it on the worktop next to the lemon juice that was meant to have gone into it!  Not knowing what the juice actually did I thought I had better put it in.  Back on the boil went the pan for ages, I kept testing it using every clean plate in the kitchen, but it was still runny.  I had enough by that stage, tired, teasy, jam all over my top, I decided to pot it anyway.  Taking the jars out of the oven where I was keeping them warm, one fell out and literally exploded into thousands of pieces all over the kitchen floor.  Boy can that stuff spread, it reached the far corners of the kitchen.  I could have cried by now, felt a bit sick from all the testing, yes I know it didn't require me tasting it.  I couldn't get all the scum off the top of the jam, so now I have four further jars of scummy runny jam and the kitchen looks like a bomb hit it.

Garden Update -  mini cucumbers and sugar snap peas are ready, picked and eaten straight from the garden YUM!!!  I will definitely grow the minis again, they are just the right size for the two of us.

Any tips from the jam makers out their would be much appreciated.

Welcome to Joanne!

Chickpea xx


  1. Oh dear!!!! I could give you lots of tips that I have read elsewhere, but as I am not a jam maker I won't in case they don't help. I would recommend trying to find a Delia, Mary Berry or Good Housekeeping recipe as they are generally very good and come with instructions that cover the setting, scum and so on. I bet that it will taste good, and if it is a little runny, that will make a lovely sauce over ice cream for the summer!!! xx

  2. Hi Amy, just tasted it and I'm pleased to report it tastes good. Excellent idea to drizzle it over ice cream, I could always pretend I intended it to be a sauce and not jam lol.

  3. I think strawberry is one of the most tricky jams to make for exactly the reasons you've given - I always overcook it so it sets too firm or it's too runny and then it won;t keep. Don't be put off jam making by strawberry. I like making chutney too but it's hard to keep it the three months or so it needs before it develops and matures.

  4. Lol you are definitely my long lost twin. I went though the exact same thing a few years ago.

    Blackberry is the easiest jam to start with, I found anyway. It just needs sugar and you can tell when it's ready to set as it gets stiff in the saucepan.

    I've just done raspberry and gooseberry. Raspberries are harder to set as they are low in pectin so I chucked a few goosgogs in and a handful of blackcurrants to help it set.

    We still eat runny jam and in some ways it tastes better than set I found (that's what I tell myself anyway) If all else fails stick it in a steam pud x

  5. So if it won't keep long I will need to use the runny jam first, thanks for the tip Frugally Challanged. I made chutney for the first time last year and couldn't get that to set either, I think it was because it was in a narrow pan. Oh well we learn from our mistakes x

  6. Thanks for the tip twin sister, I will give blackberry a go when they are in season. Yes I should have known it would all go Pete Tong, some days I am just a walking disaster and should stay in bed :) x

  7. I am absolutely NOT a jam maker but kind of wish I was. We have a glut of gooseberries this year but I'll be handing them over to M who is the jam maker in this house. It takes him HOURS and the kitchen is in utter chaos.

  8. Oohh dear,I've always fancied having a go at making too, lots of books, jars and the like, then my hubby says "just buy a "nice" jar of jam" which i do!! Looking forward to our holiday in Cornwall in October, bought some really nice jams from an honesty stall complete with fabric toppers last year,praying that they'll be there this year too, your cucumbers look fab,but they don't like me!!
    Hope you're well
    Sue xx

  9. Strawberry and raspberry are the hardest to start on your jam making adventure, so anything else will be easier!
    Sugar is nearly always 1lb to 1lb fruit.
    I make g.gog and strawberry together. Put strawbs in fridge with sugar over the night before. Then next day take them out of fridge to come to room temp. Cook G.gogs in a little water until they are a mush. Then add strawbs and sugar and warm slowly then boil to set. 3lb strawbs and 1lb g gogs makes a jam that looks and tastes like strawb but sets properly. Def. eat runny first and keep in fridge but usually brilliant over icecream.
    Put a plate in freezer to get cold, then teaspoon of jam on cold plate and see if it wrinkles when you push finger through. pop back in freezer. and try again in a few minutes.

  10. mmmm I fancy gooseberry jam, just need to plant some gooseberry bushes! Maybe I'll take a trip down to the pick your own. I can relate to the chaos in the kitchen!

  11. I hope the weather is good for your holiday Sue, which part of Cornwall will you be visiting? It's glorious here at the moment x

  12. A brave venture, making jam - I have yet to do it. I made lemon curd once though and it turned out surprisingly well. All the best there xxx

  13. Jam is not easy. I think I can help with the knowing-when-its-ready; did you test it on cold plates then put it back into the fridge/freezer for a few minutes? That's the best method, I think. When it's ready, you can drag your finger through and it will leave a clean space where the jam doesn't fill back in. Plus, it will "wrinkle" ahead of your finger as you drag; the jam will have lines in it as its being pulled across the plate. Try googling "jam ready test" and look for images, there should be some helpful ones. :)

  14. Thank you for your advice everyone I will be more prepared next time! I got home from work yesterday, looked at all the fruit left over and thought it would be easy to whip up some jam!! Then googling how to do it they all said something different. It's far better to get advice from people who have made jam, rather than reading it. xx


I love reading your comments and will try to reply to all you lovely people xx Spam will be deleted so don't even bother!