Jam vs. jelly

As a very novice jam maker, everything I’m making is a bit of an experiment. I also don’t have any one thing in large quantities (except cooking apples), so I’m making a few jars of this, a couple of that and then moving on. So far I’ve made crab apple and rosehip jelly, hedgerow jelly (a mix of sloes, haws, damsons and crab apples) and spiced damson jam. I’m currently of cooking up a batch of mulled crab apple and ginger jelly. All the raw ingredients came from a single afternoon of foraging, the only other things I needed were granulated sugar, some muslin and a good supply of sterilised jars. The recipes came courtesy of the River Cottage Handbook series.

However I’m incapable of completing a recipe without bastardising it somehow, I added mulled wine sachets to the damson jam and the apple and ginger jelly while the fruit was stewing. Obviously, remove these before you add the suger when making jam. 

Five jars in and I’m a complete convert to fruit jelly. Jellies take longer to make than jam (the stewed fruits needs to be strained for several hours or overnight), however they are far less time consuming. The main advantages:

  1. You stew the fruit whole (berries or small fruits) or roughly chopped (larger hard fruit like apples and pears) - no peeling, coring or stoning required. 
  2. Once the fruit juice is strained, it only takes about 10 minutes to make the jelly. 
  3. It’s far easier to wash up - there’s no fruit stuck to the bottom of the pan that gets burnt on (this might be more to do with my jam making ineptitude).

Previously I’d always been put off making jellies because of the straining part. You can buy all sorts of jam straining stands, however if you’re making small quantities it’s really not necessary. I cobbled together a makeshift strainer by tying a piece of muslin around the handles of a deep cooking pot. Just remember to put a non-metalic bowl in the bottom to catch the juice, as it can react with the metal if you strain it straight into the pot. 

Once you’ve got your juice, you just reheat it slowly before adding the sugar and it’s far less messy when it comes to pouring it into jars. 


Preserves by Pam Corbin
River Cottage Handbook No.2

Hedgerow by John Wright 
River Cottage Handbook No.7