Home made jam for wedding
My parents' garden is full of plum trees, damsons, apples etc... and we thought that making jam or chutney for wedding favours would be a good idea.
If we make it now (now that the fruit is ripe) - how long will the jam / chutney last? We have jars already and could do with an experienced jam maker to tell us what the idea way of making it and storing it till July 2011 will be? Any advice greatly appreciated.
Some of my books/sources say to use up home-canned jam within a year. You might want to wait a few months before making the jam if you want to use it a year from now (keeping in mind that many people won't eat the jam immediately, either).
Not sure where you are located, but jam-making can be a very warm experience. Might be more fun to heat up a kitchen in the winter!
So true about the heat. But then you won't get the best fruit, depending of course on where you are located. Last year when I was doing plum stuff (see below) I did it toward the end of September. It was a little bit cooler then than it is right now (88 today, yikes, not canning weather).
I think the general acceptability for water-bath canned home made jams is one year shelf life (stored properly out of sunlight, etc.). You would just do the standard jam-making thing -- sterilized jars, hot jam, process in water-bath for the time called for in the recipe.
As for what you will make, I made a Damson plum preserve last year that was very good and incredibly easy to make since the plums didn't have to be peeled. And I made a plum chutney from Blufre and President plums that was out of this world good (both a regular and a spicy version).
Also, unless you have something already, online are various sources for customizable labels and such that might work well for your wedding favors.
A friend who cans quite a bit gives me more preserves than I can use in a timely manor. I have frequently opened jars that have been in the cabinet for 3-5 years (she puts the date on the label). The vacuums have always been intact and the preserves, jams, or jellies have been fine. I often have storebought jars around for several years before using, too. Never a problem.
For stuff that is boiling water canned, the general recommendation is to can the amount your family can eat within a year.
Properly canned, the shelf-life is over a year. The general concern is quality (taste and appearance) not spoilage.
With that said, I've had jams and jellies over a year old. It looked fine and tasted fine to me.
With the high sugar content, you could put the jars of jam in the freezer and they would for sure be good a year from now. You couldn't freeze a jar of liquid like that, but jam will work fine.