There's no mystery about making preserves, whether jams and jelies or fine sauces in your own home kitchen. A wooden spoon, a large wide-necked shallow pot, some fruit and sugar, plus a measure of common sense, a pinch of imagination and the ability to follow a step by step instruction are all that is required.
Preparation of the fruit for jams - The best products are made from the best quality fruit. Therefore, fruit should be of a reasonable standard, washed and dried, trimmed, stoned if necessary and cooked as soon as possible. Simmer gently until the fruit is really soft and mushy is of the utmost importance. This step should take about 30 minutes.
Rolling boil - When the sugar has been dissolved, raise the heat under the pan, until the fruit comes to a rolling boil. Take care not to allow it to boil over, or catch on the bottom of the pan at this stage. Constant stirring is necessary in the final stages.
Setting test - The time taken to reach the setting point depends on the quantity of pectin contained in the fruit, and the rate of evaporation. Using the wooden spoon, place a small amount of jam on a cold saucer. Leave for approximately three minutes and test by pushing it with your finger. If a skin has formed on the top, and if it falls from the saucer back into the pan in a clot, the jelly point has been reached.
Jar and bottle preparation - Jars and bottles need to be clean and rinsed before storing upside down. Prepare them for bottling by laying them on their sides on an oven rack, and sterilizing them at 350 degree F for 20 minutes.
Bottling and lidding up - Use a ladle to fill your pouring jug. Fill the jars almost to the top. The jam will shrink back as it cools. When you have filled a dozen or so jars apply the lids. Invert the jars for one minute to ensure that the lid is sterilized by the hot jam (handle the jars with an oven cloth or folded tea towel).