The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

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Sunday 5 January 2014

Easy jam making.

One of my favourite quotes is "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are" which comes from Theodore Roosevelt. I just love it. 

Well currently I can make things, from apricots, in my kitchen. 

Right now I have enough apricots to not need to buy fruit for some time for fresh fruit plus enough to stew, make jam and pies. So each day I do something so nothing goes too soft and is wasted. Next I need to do the same with nectarines but they are not quite ripe. Then I have quite a few peaches coming from a neighbours tree. 

Jam makes a nice gift too. It's amazing who likes homemade jam. Once on face book I said I was making jam. Someone replied to me that he would give me whiting from his fishing trip in exchange for some he was so keen for some homemade jam. Deal! 

Another time we had problems with our air conditioner. We were desperate and called a service guy and it was going to be very expensive. When he arrived I was making this jam. He said "you make your own jam!" then starts telling me all about his mum and her cooking and his partner who he said was probably laying on the lounge about now watching tv. He adored and admired his Mum and seemed like he was wondering how to get rid of his partner! Anyway I always make tradesmen coffee etc and later I said to him he could take a couple of jars of jam too. When it came time to pay I offered to pay cash (as I always do) and between that and the jam he dropped the bill from $300 to $100. He gave me his card and we have called him since for air conditioner services and problems. The first time I called him I said "I am the lady who was making jam" and he says "Annabel!" Truly sometimes life amazes me. 

So here is the jam that will give you great gifts, supplies, trades and discounts, apparently.

In a lage microwave safe bowl put about a kilo of your fruit seeds removed.

I don't weigh. No scales. I use a bowl that I guess takes about a kilo and simply pile that with fruit...

You can have some under ripe fruit as long as you have some really ripe fruit. Put that in your big bowl then pour over about 700 or 800 grams of sugar. I use less sugar than fruit. I guess and under fill the same bowl I overfilled with fruit. 

Add the juice of at least half a lemon. This helps your jam to set. 

Do not cover the bowl. Put it in the microwave on high for 10 minutes. Stir. Re microwave for another 10 minutes. 

Now I use a stick blender to gently blitz the hot jam. You need to be so careful not to splatter hot jam! I would not even make jam with kids in the kitchen. Instead you could use a potato masher or fork.... something to squish up your bubbling soft fruit. 

Then microwave again 10 mins. Now you need to test it. If it is rising up in the dish and threatening to boil over it is probably done. Take a small amount on a teaspoon and let it cool. If it is still runny when cool do another ten minutes. If it holds a space when you press your finger into it then it is set. 

From the second ten minute session keep an eye on it. The first time you do this notice the times because each microwave is different, your measurements may be different. Once you know you will know for all your next batches how many minutes you need. So your first batch is an experiment and after that you will know your perfect times. For a fist batch use a little less than a kilo I think and see how it goes. Smaller amounts are quicker and easier, larger takes longer. Mostly when it threatens to boil up and over you have reached setting point.

Pour into sterilised jars. I top with cellophane tops straight away.

Every now and then all jam makers have a batch that doesn't set. You can re cook it or you can keep it in the fridge and warm it to use over pancakes or as a glaze on a cake or meat ie apricot jam glaze over a ham or chicken pieces. I remember both Nan and Mum having batches of jam that wouldn't set. It has only happened to me once or twice. Set jam should keep in the pantry for a year or more. 

I quite often give food hamper gifts. So these jars of jam with become a part of a gift. Otherwise these are my years supply of jams. And then my years supply of stewed fruit and  pies as well. 

This method works for any fruit. You can combine fruits too. The best ever was when I had pears and peaches and blended them. It was pink and delicious.

Strawberry is the prettiest colour. Last year I did other berries and the colours were like jewels. 

I keep jars all year round. Wash them and place them in a cold oven. Turn the oven on and let it heat up then turn it off and when cool you have sterilised jars. That is the easiest way I think. 

I do chutney and relish the same way. No worries about jam catching on the bottom of a big pot on the stove and hours of stirring. Also cheaper electricity wise. 

When you are done there is nothing sweeter than seeing all your jars lined up looking pretty. It is really very easy. During the year, especially winter, I will make a batch of scones and put out two or three types of jam I've made and have afternoon tea with someone. Somehow this simplicity is always a smash hit. In fact as a gift a basket of fresh scones and a jar of your jam would be a lovely mothers day gift, gift for a man you don't know what to give, house warming gift...  anything! 

Now I am craving scones. But I actually have to go pick the very last of the apricots as I see the birds have eaten a couple this morning. They can have a few but thats it, it is time to bring in the remaining fruit!


  1. Love homemade jam of any sort and always cook it on the stovetop, but no more. I will try my next batch in the microwave and it will be so much easier and I agree that the fruit won't catch on the bottom of the pan.
    waiting for some free or cheap fruit and I will be set.

    1. Hi Debbie, once you have done it once and get your times just right for you, you will love it. The colours are so gorgeous... when I do it the other way the colours are darker. Let me know how you go! xxx

    2. Hi Annabel, How wonderful that you were able to barter or get cheaper services with your marvellous jam! When our favorite builder has been here helping us with our renos I always have homemade biscuits for him as he also loves home made produce. He is always very fair in his pricing and enjoys coming for coffee (made in the machine) and biscuits! He sources second hand materials for us if we want to reduce the cost also and my DH helps his as a labourer and reduces cost as well. Home made produce is well sought after I think!!

    3. Kaye That is gorgeous I think! I was always told to feed (and water) the workers so I always have. Even when we shifted I provided morning tea and afternoon tea for the removal guys. They love you for it! And they will do anything for you after that. Even a jug of iced water on a hot day is very nice for someone working in the heat. It's a two way street! Your builder sounds great. I love re reused materials too. We hope to do our bathroom later this year and we will be doing exactly the same thing... I am looking for shelves or a cupboard to "shabby chic" for my towels and things. xx

  2. Hi Annabel, Love your post on homemade jam. I have always used hot wax to set my jams. You use cellophane to top your jam. I always thought it would get moldy. Do you just put the cellophane on top of the hot jam and thats it? Looking forward to next Wed. post. Hugs, Doreen

    1. Thank you Doreen, yes just cellophane! This is what Mum did, and Nan did. It is air tight. And it usually lasts two or three years well (at least) but then it usually gets eaten before then!
      Many people put water in their jam, I feel this is what makes it mouldy. Also climate wise we are more hot and dry and not in the tropics or anything and Im wondering if this would be a factor?
      Many thanks! xxx

  3. Another jam question, Annabel...sorry! I tried peach jam today. It was a small batch as I only had two peaches. The jam isn't bad, but it is a little chewy. Do you think I may have overcooked it a bit? Just wondering for next time so I can adjust the time. Thank you!

    1. Dear Jen, yes probably, being a smaller amount it would need less cooking time. But it can still be used either warm it to soften or treat it as a fruit paste and use with cheese and crackers. This is really good!
      Experiments like this is how to learn. Well done! Love Annabel.xx

    2. Thanks so much! I'm trying plum and cherry next :)

  4. Okay, I found your jam making link here! :) So you can ignore my jam making question in the last comment. So... you just sterilize your jars and pour in the hot jam and cover with cellophane? This lasts for a few years in your pantry? We are so brainwashed with water bathing our jars in America that this is very interesting to me :)

    1. oops too late Jes, I already explained in the other comment sorry! I think I covered everything. I never knew in the US jam is canned. so I am learning too! xxx

    2. Oh yes! And the canning police come out if you don't! J/K but it is really is a hot topic if you don't... Thanks you for sharing your technique! :)

  5. I found a link that also features a recipe for making jam in the microwave: It sound virtually the same as your recipe, Annabel. Be sure to read the comments as they answer lots of questions. Yes, the jam can be frozen, and one person suggests that for long term storage (on a shelf, not frozen) to go ahead and do the water bath canning that is recomended here in the U.S. I just went to my freezer and pulled out a bag of frozen cherries from the in-law's farm tree--I'll be trying out this recipe, and frankly, if this turns out good, I think I'll never buy store bought jam again. Thanks Annabel!

  6. On another note... perhaps some readers have heard that the nutritional value of foods cooked in microwaves is decreased. You can read many articles on-line about this, the most prevalent theory is that microwaving destroys nutrients. We can do our own research and decide for ourselves. I try not to heat/cook everything in the microwave, but I know I won't be getting rid of my microwave anytime soon either. Thanks Annabel. Joy.

  7. Thank you for including the link to this jam in your 4th January 2018 post. I have always felt a bit daunted by the jam-making process after a not entirely successful attempt in a home economics class years ago. I recall the teacher going on at some length about a special pot that must be used, near constant watching over it, and difficulty guessing the quantity of pectin required, but THIS I'm confident I can do, and its apricot season which is wonderful as it's my favourite jam!

    1. Dear Judy, Your teacher was not very helpful!! No special pot needed, no special equipment and no pectin! Pectin is in the lemon so no need to buy that!
      I am so glad you are willing to try this. You know when you have cooked enough as a little bit on a teaspoon when cooled... it will wrinkle if you put your finger into it. Then you're done! Good luck! Love

  8. Hi Annabelle ,I just tried the microwave apricot jam with my last lot of apricots from my tree and it is so delicious and so much easier than the way I was doing jam on the stovetop, also what temperature do you you sterilise your jars?Thanks

    1. Dear JarrahBella, Well done I am glad you like it. I dont have a temperature exactly... I wash up my jars well. I sit them in the oven (cold oven) then turn oven on to about 180 C which is 350? F and let it get good and hot then turn it off and then they are sterilised. I leave them in the oven and get them straight out and pour in the hot jam. I have never once had a mould issue or anything. I hope that helps. Love

  9. Wonderful information, Annabel! Thanks so much for sharing~I want to try this.xoxoxo
    Mary in San Diego


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