The Women's Institutes' beginner's guide to making raspberry jam
Make this popular and easy raspberry jam to celebrate 100 years of the Women's Institute. We explain how to master the trickier bits of making jam - testing for pectin and checking the jam is properly set.
The Raspberry Jam Recipe – a few tips for those new to jam making
Makes approx. 4.5kg
• Wash the fruit, drain well and place in a pan.
• Simmer gently until some juice has been extracted, then test for pectin (see below)
• Remove from the heat and add the sugar.
• Stir until dissolved. Return to the heat and bring to the boil. Boil hard until setting point is reached (see below)
• Pour into warmed jars and cover.
• Use fruit that is firm, fresh and just ripe. Over-ripe fruit will have lost pectin content.
• Granulated sugar is fine for this recipe, although jam sugar with pectin could help fruit with poor pectin set more stiffly.
• Warm the sugar in the oven, as this gives the jam a better colour and flavour.
Testing for pectin
For all those new to jam making, testing for pectin may sound like quite a complicated step. Luckily, it’s very easy and quick to do!
- Once the fruit has simmered for a while, place a teaspoon of the extracted juice into a small glass, such as a shot glass.
- Then add 3 teaspoons of methylated spirit to the glass and swirl and leave for a few minutes.
- If a large clump of jelly forms then the fruit contains lots of pectin and the jam will set well.
- If a couple of slightly smaller clumps form, then there is a medium amount of pectin present and slightly more might need adding.
- If lots of little soft clumps form, then there is very little pectin in the fruit and more pectin definitely needs to be added.
A low pectin result may just mean not enough pectin has been extracted from the fruit yet, and if you simmer the fruit for another 5-10 minutes and then re-test, there might be a better result.
However fruits have varying amounts of pectin and therefore more pectin needs to be added to certain fruits.
It’s possible to buy liquid or granulated pectin to add to the simmering fruit. You can also buy jam-making sugar, enhanced with pectin, and use this as an alternative to the regular sugar.
Finding the setting point
There is quite a strange method for testing to see if the boiling point of jam has been reached. Once you know how to do it though, it’s also very straightforward.
- Before you start making the jam place a saucepan or heatproof plate in the freezer.
- Once jam has been brought to the boil, take it off the heat. Take the saucepan/plate out of the freezer and place a drop of the jam onto the cold surface.
- Leave for a few seconds, and then push the jam with your finger.
- If the surface wrinkles, then it has reached setting point and is ready. However if it is still liquid, then it needs boiling for slightly longer.
- Test again after a few more minutes on the boil, but take care not to boil for too long as this can damage the pectin.
Testing for pectin and to see if the boiling point has been reached is the best way to ensure that you’re making jam that will set. If, in the past, you’ve ended up with jam you can literally pour or you have always been a bit too apprehensive to try making it then these tests should ensure an almost perfect success rate in the future.
Sian Lewis is an award-winning outdoors and travel writer and blogger who focuses on sharing beginner-friendly adventures in the wildest corners of Britain.