Small batch nectarine jam bursts with delicious flavour and doesn’t need huge preserving pans or take hours. Make 2 jars from 4 fruit! Three ingredients, no added pectin.
I love the summer, particularly when delicious and juicy peaches and nectarines are available; they amongst my favourite fruits. I far prefer sun ripened, seasonal European fruit to that flown in from the Southern hemisphere over the winter, as I find the latter flavourless and with unimpressive food miles. However, this jam is the perfect way to really enjoy the taste of nectarines over the rest of the year; you never need to go without again.
This is technically a conserve rather than a jam, as the fruit is macerated in sugar first, rather than having the sugar added after the fruit has been cooked down. The first job with this recipe is to cut the fruit and extract all the stones. This does take a moment, but the big advantage of making small batches of jam is that I don’t spend all afternoon cutting nectarines – we’re only using about 4 large nectarines in this recipe.
Next, mix the sugar and lemon juice into the fruit, and leave it to allow the sugar to draw out the juice. If you can, leave it overnight, but at least an hour is required. In the morning, you’ll see plenty of juice, ready for the next stage.
The sugar needs to dissolve, so pour the mixture into a good sized saucepan – you need plenty of room to boil it, but you don’t need a full sized preserving pan – and heat it gently until all the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved (which with small batch jam should only take at most 5 minutes), the jam is ready to be brought up to temperature to set it.
The only slight difficulty with jam is testing the setting point – when it’s reached the point at which when cool, it will set, rather than just remain liquid. There are several ways of checking this: the first is by temperature; carefully checking the mixture with an accurate electronic thermometer. Second, the traditional test using a chilled plate. Place a couple of side plates in the freezer before you add the sugar. Once the jam is boiling, start testing by placing some on the plate. Allow it to cool; when you push your finger through, it’s reached setting point when you see a wrinkle up ahead of your finger. This technique takes a bit of practice. Read our detailed notes on jam setting points on our blackberry and apply jelly recipe.
Finally, you can test for setting by checking the way that the jam runs off a spoon. Take a spoonful from the pan and turn it vertically to tip out the jam. If it runs off, it hasn’t set. If, however a little remains on the spoon in a sort of wide drip that doesn’t fall, then the jam is ready. Again, this works best with some practice, but the advantage of small batch jam is that by making little and often, you tune your senses as to when the jam is done and will be able to see when it is ready by its appearance when it is boiling.
6 great reasons to make small batch jam.
- Time. Small batch jam quantities take much less time to cook and set. A couple of pots of jam can be made while cooking supper.
- Simplicity. You don’t need a large preserving pan. A good sized standard saucepan will do.
- Flavour. You can choose the best, freshest fruit and make amazingly flavourful jam. The speed of cooking also helps give best results – no boiling away the flavour.
- Storage. You don’t need storage space for a rackful of jam jars. Just enough shelf space for a couple.
- Experiment! If you’re only making a small batch, you can afford to experiment with flavour combinations. If your experiment doesn’t work, well, it’s no great loss. By making less you get to make more batches of jam! I once made so many preserves I had to have a 8 year break whilst I ate them all!
- Finally, because it’s fun and you will impress your friends by gifting them jars of small batch jam!
So here’s the perfect place to start your small batch jam-making.
Small Batch Nectarine Jam – Ingredient Ratios
As usual here are the are the ingredient ratios for the jam so you can scale it up and down.
- Two fruit makes a medium (250ml jar of jam)
- Use about 80% (4/5) sugar to fruit, weight for weight
- Add 1tbs of lemon juice per 4 fruit, or a scant teaspoon per fruit
Serve on toast, crumpets, or stir a spoonful into a bowl of plain yogurt for a quick and easy midweek pudding.
Steeping the fruit in the sugar beforehand extracts the juice and makes for a delicious jam bursting with flavour. Three ingredients and 4 fruit make two jars of jam.
- 440 g ripe nectarines stones removed and chopped up
- 360 g granulated white sugar
- 1 tbs lemon juice
The sugar is 80% weight of fruit (about 4 large nectarines)
- Place nectarines in a bowl, cover with the sugar, add the lemon juice, stir, Cover. Leave overnight
Pour into a medium saucepan – gently heat until the sugar has dissolved. Lightly mash with a potato masher to break the fruit up.
Place jam jars and lids in the oven at 135°C/Gas mark 1
- Bring to a rolling, but not rapid boil until setting point is reached. 105C or spoon from the freezer sets and wrinkles on the top when poked.
Allow to stand for a few minutes. Pour into hot jars – seal and allow to cool.