A bit jammy

Scared off by talk of pectin variability and techniques of jar sterilisation, I’ve never been a jam maker. Add to that a couple of preserving disasters in my youth (a large disgustingly mouldy jar of roasted capsicums and 4 litres of rancid preserved lemons), and I’ve been happy enough to grab my jams and chutneys at markets and on election day outside the church hall from kind, elderly ladies.

But the other day on my doorstep, stood my mother, with a kilo of cumquats from her tree and a photocopy of a page from an old microwave-cooking cookbook.

So I’ve given it a go, and am happy to report that it was easy and I’m a bit inspired. I know some of you are vehemently anti-microwave so this recipe is not for you. But for the rest of us, who figure that a few micro-waves in moderation are ok, this recipe is great. Here goes…

Sterilise your jars

Don’t be scared. I followed Sally Wise’s advice from ‘A year in a bottle’, which has been on my shelves for a while (secretly, I’ve been coveting the role of preserve princess). Wash your jars in hot soapy water. Rinse and place on a tray in your oven. Heat to 110C, then turn off and leave for at least 10 minutes. Take the washed lids and simmer in boiling water for 2 minutes (this is where I went wrong with my lemons).

Blitzing the fruit means it cooks quickly and it is peel chunk-free

This recipe is from either a Woman’s Weekly or Family Circle Microwave cookbook – I’m not sure exactly, I only have a photocopy of 1 page).

½ kilo citrus fruit (I used cumquats)
1 ½ cups water
3 cups white sugar

Wash the fruit well, discard any mouldy ones. Cut roughly and remove any seeds. Add the fruit to a food processor (I did two batches in my mini-one) and blitz well.

Place in a large microwave-proof bowl. Add the water and microwave on high for 10 minutes.

Add the sugar and mix well. Cook for 18 minutes more in total – do 3 x 6 minutes and give the mixture a stir each time.


This is the bit that always makes me sigh and turn the page in recipe books, but actually it’s easy. Again, Sally Wise’s advice is good – put two teaspoons of jam onto a saucer. Pop into the fridge for a couple of minutes. Run your finger through it – if it wrinkles, it is ready. If it doesn’t, it might need another couple of minutes of cooking.

Leave the jam for a few more minutes to start to cool, then pop into your warm jars. Seal while warm.

You've bothered to make jam - go all the way and give them frilly hats.


If like me, you’ve got an expensive pair of pinking shears that rarely see the light of day, dig them out and make some pretty frilly caps for your jam. It is nearly Christmas after all.

And there you have it. Pretty painless. I’m off to woo my neighbour, Gloria, with a jar. Who will you woo with your uber-housewife homemade? I’ll be back later in the week with a yum recipe that actually uses up some of the jam too. See you then…

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12 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Mmmmmmm, will give this one a whirl. Any chance you have a non-citrus jam (like berry or kiwi fruit) recipe that’s just as easy lying around somewhere???

    • 2

      wendyblume said,

      Yes, I was going to try the strawberry next. Their quantities are… 2 punnets strawberries, 1/4 cup lemon juice & 2 cups sugar. Cook the fruit & juice for 4 minutes. Add the sugar and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. do a set test, then pour into sterilised jars. Too easy!

  2. 3

    Laila Thomas said,

    Hi heard all about you on HOPE 103.2. will add your books to my wish list……
    keep going!! well done.

  3. 5

    Claire said,

    From Ready Steady Cook

    1/2 kg fruit
    1 cup sugar
    Juice of 1 lemon or 1/2 lime

    Microwave at 5 min spurts until starts to reduce then at 1 or 2 min spurts until set

    This is my basic jam recipe. I make all our jam now. I replace the sugar with dextrose to cut out the extra fructose (the part of sugar that’s bad for our bodies).

    • 6

      wendyblume said,

      Yes, I’m surprised at how easy it is. Always thought it was much trickier. Think I’ll be making alot more of mine too. Especially using up the mushy strawberries.

      • 7

        Claire said,

        It’s good, isn’t it?! If you use riper fruit add a little more citrus juice. Pectin levels in fruit decrease as it ripens but the pectin in the citrus will make up for it.

      • 8

        wendyblume said,

        Made the strawberry one, just a small amount of 250g. Needed to keep a closer eye on it – ended up with a microwave coated in jam! Still, I got about half a jar out of it and it’s delicious!

      • 9

        Claire said,

        Ooops, lol. I’ve done that before too. Everytime you use your microwave for the next few uses it will smell delicious. I find that a large bowl works well (like a salad bowl) as the jam can bubble up the sides without spilling over. It’ll still spit a few droplets but not plaster your microwave.

      • 10

        wendyblume said,

        Yes, I used quite a big bowl but the strawberries were much more vigorous than the cumquats. Next time I’ll perfect it. And how good is the lemon tang! Heaps more interesting flavor than store bought.

        Happy weekend- I’m off to make satay sticks for a BBQ today. Xx

      • 11

        Claire said,

        I think the lemon tang is one of my most very favourite things (second only to the satisfaction of it being home made by me and without additives etc). If the fruit I’ve used is too sweet and overpowered the lemon tang more than is desires by my palate, I sneak in a little citric acid.

  4. 12

    Anna said,

    So far this week I’ve managed a batch of onion jam (too easy for words), some strawberry jam and the best by far – Beetroot chutney! I can’t wait to cook up some burgers and not have to waste half a tin of sliced beetroot afterwards
    . Currently onto a food processed whole orange cake and brownies for the cake stalls at school and preschool. It’s fair day at our school too – crazy busy weekend!

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