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  • Will a proper jam pan make a difference?

    Hi everyone. I was hoping to get some advice on whether a proper preserving pan will solve some of the problems I have been experiencing making jams and marmalades.
    I have a big Meyer stainless steel stock pot with a 10mm base on it which I use for making preserves. It was fine when I was making various jellies for christmas presents, but I have found since I have been making preserves with 'bits' in, I find it difficult to get them to setting point without my mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan.
    I was wondering if it's my pan that is making the difference between success and failure, or am I just a bad preserver blaming her tools???
    Last night I tried hard to kick my 'stirring while roll boiling' habit in an attempt to keep the temperature up, but found that my strawberry jam still burnt on the bottom before setting point.

    Any advice most welcome!
    There is a war going on for your mind. If you are thinking you are winning.

  • #2
    Haven't a clue if it will help, but I'm about to order one from Ascott Smallholder's Supplies. They have 'kits' which contain just about everything you need. But of course if you've been making jams for a while you probably already have most of the equipment. I've been using my bread machine for jam making for years, but a combination of way too much soft-fruit and a desire to 'do it right', means I'm going to start preserving in earnest this autumn. If you have blueberries try layering them in a jar alternately with sugar until it's almost full, then top the jar up with rum or brandy, screw the lid on tight and leave for at least a month or so, shaking gently occasionally so that the sugar, fruit juices and alcohol combine to form a thick syrup, then spoon the mixture it onto pancakes with a little whipped or clotted cream. This is my absolute favourite method for preserving fruit and is simple and delicious (and also idiot-proof, which is important when I'm the one doing it!)
    Last edited by bluemoon; 02-07-2009, 04:25 PM.
    Into each life some rain must fall........but this is getting ridiculous.

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    • #3
      Thanks for that Bluemoon. I don't have much 'proper' equipment apart from a jam thermometer, I would be interested to see how you find using the equipment you've ordered.
      Your blueberry recipe sounds fantastic! I do have four new blueberry bushes but I don't think I'll have enough of a crop this year to preserve them. I did a similar thing with blackberries and raspberries for christmas presents and they were awesome and so easy. I think the alcoholic gifts were much more appreciated than my preserves, funny that
      There is a war going on for your mind. If you are thinking you are winning.

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      • #4
        I have a big jam pan (at http://www.cookability.biz/kitchen-c...-pan/b_234.htm they are £27 at the moment, cheapest I've seen) which has been a godsend for making everything from jam & jelly to chutney & tomato sauces. I've never had anything stick to the bottom since I got it 2 years ago.

        The other major weapon in my preserving armoury is "Jam Sugar" rather than ordinary sugar - it has added pectin so that you can get a 'set' within about 4 minutes of a rolling boil starting with low pectin fruit like strawberries etc.

        I never ever use a sugar thermometer, I found mine to be inaccurate, and totally in the way! I test for set by removing the pan from the heat and dribbling a bit of the mixture on a small plate . Leave it a minute or 2 to cool, then puch a finger gently over the top - if it wrinkles then it's reached setting point. If it doesn't wrinkle, then boil for another minute and re-test.
        Last edited by SarzWix; 02-07-2009, 05:42 PM.

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        • #5
          Thanks Sarzwix, that is good advice. I should have mentioned that I have not been using jam sugar because I couldn't find any that was organic or fair trade. I guess I might have to use it for certain jams to get a good result. I used golden granulated sugar and some extra pectin stock for this last attempt.
          I think you're onto something with the jam thermometer too, I have been suspecting it isn't that accurate. When I made my jellies I used the cold plate technique and it worked fine, so I think I'll ditch the thermometer!
          There is a war going on for your mind. If you are thinking you are winning.

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          • #6
            Kitchen Craft Maslin Pan with Handle, Stainless Steel, 9 Litre: Amazon.co.uk: Kitchen & Home

            £25 delivered from Amazon (see more buying choices on the rhs). Is it any good, I don't know, but its the same as the one above I think...
            Last edited by smallblueplanet; 02-07-2009, 07:08 PM.
            To see a world in a grain of sand
            And a heaven in a wild flower

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            • #7
              OH got a proper pan last year (car boot sale £5.00) and she swears by it and its got nothing to do with the fact that she is the "Mrs Twee" to end all.

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              • #8
                I use my grandmother's cooper pan with steel handle c 1900.. No thick base so it heats up and cools quickly. As long as I stir well, no problems with burning on base.

                Thick bases in my view mean overheating is going to happen unless you do not use a high setting - and that means jam making takes longer.


                So far in 22 years I have managed to avoid burning jam...

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                • #9
                  'Silver Spoon' Jam Sugar won't be labelled as Fair Trade because it's all grown in Britain, so the workers are protected by our employment laws

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                  • #10
                    It's probably better to take a bit longer boiling the jam less violently, rather than have it stick. The shape of a 'proper' jam pan may help. Other pans are usually straight sided. Jam pans are wider at the top. Thicker base is supposed to make the base heat up more evenly, which ought to help as well.
                    I know lots of people like the 'pectin-added' sugar, but it just isn't what I would use. There are always other options.
                    The most common cause of jam 'sticking' is that the sugar isn't quite as well dissolved as you thought it was (much more likely with 'bits' in, it can be very hard to tell, and sometimes a few grains attach themselves to pieces of fruit....).
                    Flowers come in too many colours to see the world in black-and-white.

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                    • #11
                      Thanks for the advice everyone. Sarzwix I was thinking that a British beet sugar could be a good alternative to organic sugar for the reason you suggested, thanks. I would still prefer to use organic if at all possible, although having to weigh the pros of organic against the cons of food miles is a tricky one that I haven't come to a conclusion on. I mean, here I am trying to make good preserves from British, seasonal, often wild ingredients and I'm then using food-mile-rich sugar with which to make it doesn't seem to make much sense! But that's a whole other debate.
                      I guess that a jam pan, having a wider top, evaporates quicker and therefore achieves setting point quicker. That'll be the next purchase then!
                      There is a war going on for your mind. If you are thinking you are winning.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by SarzWix View Post
                        'Silver Spoon' Jam Sugar won't be labelled as Fair Trade because it's all grown in Britain, so the workers are protected by our employment laws
                        I don't buy Silver Spoon sugar, basically because it is beet sugar. I prefer Tate & Lyle, simply because it is pure cane sugar.

                        Silly old me, I know, but I have my strange querks.

                        valmarg

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                        • #13
                          Is there a tasteable (is that a word?) difference between beet and cane sugar?
                          There is a war going on for your mind. If you are thinking you are winning.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TEB View Post
                            OH got a proper pan last year (car boot sale £5.00) and she swears by it and its got nothing to do with the fact that she is the "Mrs Twee" to end all.
                            Your pan sounds like the one I got from the flea market a few years ago for a couple of pounds its perfect.

                            LostGoddess there's usually a few on ebay just do a search for 'maslin pan'

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                            • #15
                              I think there's more room for a jam to 'rise up' when boiling in a proper jam pan, as well as the fact that they usually have a thick base which prevents sticking. I've always had a jam pan - it's mega useful. It does big batchesof soups and in the harvest season I can make massive batches of ratatouille in it too!
                              Whoever plants a garden believes in the future.

                              www.vegheaven.blogspot.com Updated March 9th - Spring

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