Whether you have a glorious harvest crop or a batch of summer berries, reducing all that vibrant flavour into a concentrated jam, chutney, pickle or preserve is one of the most satisfying kitchen endeavours you can set upon (jam pun, intended).
Getting the right results is a science, however, and precision, skill and safety are all necessary requirements for success. Don’t embark on a preserving session without the right cookery equipment.
Here, we round up the best equipment for making jam and other preserves at home, plus find jam recipe ideas as well as top tips and a video tutorial. For more round-ups and best buys, visit our reviews section.
The best jam-making equipment to buy
Give yourself plenty of room for manoeuvre with a bespoke jam pan. This one holds up to two gallons of liquid and has handy measurements up the side. A maslin pan has a spout and a carry handle, and can also be used for making stock – or serving mulled wine at a party. The handle means it can be hung from a hook for easy storage, too.
Divertimenti wooden spoons
Some jams and chutneys require rapid boiling, so it’s wise to use wooden spoons as they don’t transfer heat. They also prevent scratches and scrapes to the bottom of your pan, plus they’re generally one of the most important kitchen utensils – so it’s worth paying due attention to which you buy. We like these olive wood spoons from Divertimenti, available in various sizes, including a long-handled 35cm version.
Kilner jar thermometer
This vintage-inspired probe will help on the health and safety front. Clip it to the side of your pan and monitor the temperature of your preserve to ensure it’s ready for jarring.
Westmark glass jar lifter
Instead of relying on a tattered tea towel, grab yourself a pair of specially designed pincers to safely lift steaming hot jars.
Lakeland easy-fill jam funnel
Dribbles down the side of your jars are never a good look. Avoid a sloppy mess (and minimise the risks involved in handling scalding hot jam or chutney) by using a specialist funnel with a wide neck to transport the mixture from the pan.
Le Parfait clip-top jars
We’re passionate about recycling old glass receptacles, but for gifts, old-fashioned jars look smart and uniform in a hamper – plus they can be used again and again if washed and sterilised correctly. They can also be used for storage once the chutney or jam is used up. The rubber seal guarantees the contents are locked in and are unlikely to taint.
The peel of citrus is full of flavour. A hand-held zester enables you to capture that layer without also taking the white pith from below which can often taste bitter. Microplane has a reputation for its sharp, fine zesters which also double up really well for grating hard cheeses like parmesan.
Pyrex measuring jug
Made of thick Borosilicate glass, the large Pyrex jug has clear notches for measuring in ml, fl oz and pint metrics. A sturdy handle makes its large capacity manageable, plus the jug’s broad neck is simple to pour into from pans. Dishwasher- and microwave-safe, this is a great bit of kit to have in your kitchen anyway.
Lakeland jelly and jam strainer with stand
Straining bags come in particularly useful for making smooth jams. This three-piece set clicks together and can hold up to 2kg of fruit. Pop a bowl beneath the washable bag and the contents will eventually separate, leaving you with flavourful smooth jelly without any pulp, pips or peel.
KitchenCraft wax discs
Wax disks in a full jar of jam helps keep the contents fresh by facilitating an airtight seal. Simply rest one of these on top before sealing the jar’s lid. It will peel off easily once opened again.
Nordic Ware mini silicone baking spatulas
Mini spatulas are immensely practical when it comes to working with jars. The smaller silicone head fits happily within the small glass necks and are flexible enough to scoop all the last dregs from a cooled jam pan. Just wipe and swipe. They also make great baking gifts and kitchen tools for kids because of their smaller, manageable handles.
KitchenCraft vintage-style jar labels
Label up your jars filled with jammy goodness and they’ll be easier to identify for fishing out of a busy cupboard. Handwritten labels are also a great personal touch if you’re giving jars of jam as gifts. These vintage-style labels just peel straight off. Make sure the jars are fully cooled before sticking.
Posca white paint pen
In the interests of sustainability (and a more modern look) a white paint pen is a great alternative for labelling jars. Just write straight onto the cooled, dried glass or lid.
Salter digital weighing scales
Avoid a disaster by measuring your ingredients to the dot – sugar levels are particularly important when jamming. Ensure accuracy with every recipe by investing in a pair of electronic scales. This set by Salter can weigh up to 5kg and has easy to use buttons.
Jam recipes and tips
This review was last updated in August 2020. If you have any questions or suggestions for future reviews, or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you a keen jam-maker? We’d love to hear your cookery tips and product picks.