For many preserving is classed as one of the dark arts of the kitchen. A mystifying process reserved for those with a supernatural ability to calculate a fruit’s pectin potential by just looking at it. These are people who have the innate ability to mix measured quantities of fruit and sugar in large pots and make the mix miraculously gel. They know the rules, they cast the spells. They collect the resulting concoction in recycled jars with homemade labels to adorn their pantry shelves while they await the inevitable apocalypse, or gift-giving season, whichever comes first.
The truth is, preserving will cast a spell on you. But only once you realize just how easy it is to do. The only magic going on is the simple pleasure of spreading a taste of summer on a piece of toast on a cold, wintery morning. And if you aren’t the kind of family that gets through jar after jar of jam, the feeling of goodwill as you hand a friend a jar is heartwarming. Homemade always means something more.
Always the pedant, here’s a low-down of the different preserving definitions, just so we are all on the same page. All use the same process which is to heat fruit and sugar which releases pectin, the natural setting agent in fruit.