Making homemade jam from fruit is a fantastic pastime. Over the past 18 months, 100,000s of people in the UK have embraced this stress-relieving and rewarding skill, with one nine-year-old girl even becoming a world champion after only taking it up this year! In this guide, we’re looking at which fruits to use for making jam in the Autumn alongside some tips to get you started.
Making our jam is something that even the Luxurious Magazine editorial is quite partial to. Take Natasha, for example; she adores making jams, and it’s a given that some of her friends will get a jar of handmade jam at Christmas. Natasha is no alone in respect of this; the lockdowns have introduced a whole new generation of Brits to the art of jam making. Weleda has reported that almost half of UK households are now growing fruit, vegetables and herbs, with a good percentage trying it out for the very first time.
Growing fruit to make homemade jam is something we’d encourage all to get involved in, and Autumn is a great time to try it as most fruits will be ready to turn into delicious jam.
Shannen Godwin from J Parker’s says, “If people enjoy eating jam throughout the week, as a topping for toast, scones or any other treats, it’s best to consider making your own, as the homemade version is highly rewarding health-wise and is a great pastime. Growing an edible garden offers plenty of satisfaction, and DIY-ing jam is a very convenient method to deal with the fruit leftovers, minimising the waste.”
When it comes to gardening related matter’s, we frequently turn to J Parker’s as they’re one of the country’s leading specialists in this field.
They’ve been incredibly helpful in compiling a guide to which fruits are best for making Autumnal jam along with some very helpful tips to get you started.
Why should you bother making your own jam in the first place?
A homemade jam comes with many benefits, all thanks to the plants and fruits used, which contain natural sugar. Unlike synthetic or processed sugar, this natural option quickly mixes with the blood to give energy to the body. These plants and fruits are also known to relieve heart pain.
Homemade jam also prevents sweating due to internal diseases because of the pectin content that offers a variety of health benefits, including cancer-fighting antioxidant power. The latter helps reduce the risk of getting various cancers, particularly colon-rectum, mouth, and stomach cancer.
If you make your homemade jam with chunks of healthy fruit, you can have a reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, and other potential cardiovascular diseases.
In pregnant women, consuming homemade jam helps reduce the risk of getting neural tube effects, anencephaly, and spina bifida during foetal development.
Which fruits are best suited to making jam?
Homemade jam is made from pieces of fruit that are chopped, crushed, and cooked with sugar. You’ll need to do this until the pectin releases. The mixture will then thicken to a spreadable consistency.
The most commonly used fruits include berries, grapes, and stone fruit. But these are not the only ones you can use. The sky really is the limit when it comes to the varieties you can use. As a general rule of thumb, you can use the following:
These include oranges and kumquats. Citrus fruits, particularly orange, are very high in pectin.
These include apples and pears. The Pome fruits also have very high levels of pectin.
These include fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. They are also known as softer fruits and are very low in pectin levels.
These include fruits like apricot. Apricots are also very low in pectin and so require a little bit more sugar to gel.
These include pineapples and passion fruit. Tropical fruits contain almost zero pectins, so they need to be combined with high pectin fruits or a little bit more sugar to reach the desired consistency.
How to grow these fruits
The different fruits you can use to create your homemade jam are grown differently. Here’s a brief explanation of how to grow some of them.
Most citrus fruits require warm sunny weather. For instance, to grow the orange fruit, you need to plant it at least six weeks after the last frost date. This is when the soil and air temperatures are consistently warm.
Pears, like the Pear Lilliput, for instance, can be planted onto patios. It, however, requires more light and warmth than apple trees.
Like most other fruits, pome fruits mature well when grown under full sunlight. This means that an apple tree, for instance, should get six or more hours of direct sunlight over summer.
The apple cox’s orange pippin, a red-tinted apple with very juicy flesh, starts flowering in April and May. Its white flowers attract butterflies and birds into the garden. This particular variety does well in non-acidic, well-drained soil in sunny areas of the garden.
Berries also need full sunlight to grow optimally. Raspberries, however, can grow in part-sun conditions, but the yield will be affected.
The Mailing Jewel Raspberries, for instance, is ideal for planting in the garden, specifically the allotment or patio containers. This hardy variety can fit well in a small garden, with about 30 canes being supported. It thrives in well-drained loamy/sandy soil.
Stone fruits like the apricot taste better when grown at home compared to the varieties bought at the shop. From April to May, the Apricot “Large Early” variety blooms with beautiful flowers that encourage birds and butterflies into the garden.
If you’re in the most exposed and northern areas in the UK, it is best to plant it in a cold glasshouse.
When to harvest them
You need to pay close attention to when these fruits need to be harvested so that you pick the healthiest to make your homemade jam with. The best indicator of when these fruits are ready is their taste. However, these are the general times they’re ready.
Most citrus fruits are ready for picking in winter. Oranges and grapefruit, for instance, can be picked anywhere from December to May.
For pome fruits, you can tell whether they’re ready to harvest by their colour. The apple cox’s orange pippin will be red, for instance.
On the other hand, Berries are usually ready to harvest between late spring and early fall, depending on the variety. This is usually 4 to 6 weeks after blossoming. Make sure they’re not soft before they’re harvested. The harvest lasts up to 3 weeks, and you can pick almost every other day.
Stone fruits are highly seasonal. This means that most varieties won’t ripen until after they’ve been harvested. Thus, they’re picked at their peak, which is often a very small window of time. The window usually opens in spring, with apricots and cherries.
Try a hand at homemade jam
You won’t regret trying a hand at making your own natural, homemade jam. The health benefits are incredible, and you will have a lot of fun planting, growing, and harvesting the fruits before finally preparing the jam.
Read more garden-related guides, news and features here.