As you've probably gathered from my blog so far, I love all things homemade for weddings and I have an incredibly soft spot for jam favours for lots of reasons. They're easy to make, easy to make pretty and guests love them. I am a bit of a jam making babe - an afternoon at a local pick-you-own farm and then home to make jars and jars of gorgeous conserve. Trust me, it's bliss and terribly satisfying when you've got lots of lovely jars all lined up!
So, I thought I'd post some visual inspiration, some of my favourite jam recipes (all tried & tested many times by me!) and some top tips for making your own oh-so sweet jars of jammy goodness.
Above - these pretty jars illustrate everything that's great about jam favours. The fabric tops are just tied on with twine here but you could use anything you liked from ribbon to raffia. You could neatly edge the fabric discs, cut them with pinking shears, chop them any old way or buy them ready made. And you don't have to use fabric - paper, leaves, stickers with photographs - the only limit is your imagination. But how cute are these 'printed at home' labels? 'Spread the Love' is the best line possible for jam favours! Image - Steven Myers
You can buy everything you need to make jam favours on the high street easily now (for UK readers, somewhere like Lakeland is ideal) from jars and lids to jam pans and thermometers. If you're making lots of jam, a big jam pan (or maslin) is great and I would definitely get a thermometer so you can keep an eye on that all important temperature and then you know when your jam has reached setting point. Before you make your jam, you will definitely need to sterilise your jars and there's a quick guide here. Image above - Gideon Photography
Boozy Strawberry Jam - 1.3kg strawberries (hulled & wiped), 1.3kg jam sugar & your favourite liqueur (Cointreau works really well!). Put the fruit in a large pan with a splash of lemon juice and simmer slowly until all the juices start running (about 10 mins). Mash the strawberries with a potato masher then simmer for another 5 mins until you've got a thick puree. Add the sugar & stir until completely dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil for around 5 mins or until you reach 'jam set' on your thermometer & remove any scum. Add two teaspoons of your liqueur to your cooled & sterilised jars then pour in the jam. Seal and store. Makes around 2.2kg of boozy jam! Image above - Go Burberry
High Dumpsie Dearie Jam - 900g cooking apples (peeled, cored & sliced), 900g pears (peeled & sliced), 900g plums (halved & stoned), 50g fresh fruit ginger (bruised & tied in a muslin bag), 2kg jam sugar. Place all the fruit & the ginger in a large pan and add just enough water to cover the base. Simmer until tender (around 45 mins). Remove from the heat, add the sugar & stir until dissolved. Return to the heat and boil until your jam thermometer says you've reached setting point. Remove any scum then pour into cooled sterilised jars and seal. Makes around 3.2-3.6kg for fruity jam. Image above - Jason Chong
Plum & Mulled Wine Jam - 1.8kg red plums (halved & stoned), Half a bottle of red wine, sachet of mulled wine spices, piece of orange zest (no pith please!), 1.8kg jam sugar. Put all the plums & wine into a pan. Add the mulled wine spice sachet & cook gently for 15-20mins. Remove the spice sachet and add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Boil rapidly until your jam thermometer says you've reached setting point (around 10 mins). Remove any scum then pour into cooled, sterilised jars and seal & store. Makes around 2.7kg of the best wintery jam. Image above - Joshua Caine
Midsummer Jam - 450g gooseberries (no stalks), 450g redcurrants (no stalks), 450g strawberries (hulled), 450g raspberries (hulled), 1.8kg jam sugar. Put the gooseberries & redcurrants in a pan with 150ml water, bring to the boil then simmer for 15-20mins. Add the strawberries & raspberries and simmer for another 10 mins. Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved then bring to the boil and boil until your jam thermometer says you're at setting point. Remove any scum then pour into cooled sterilised jars, seal & store. Makes around 2.7kg of summery jam. Image above - Kristen Alexander
If you'd like to read more about making jam, then some of my favourite jam books are - WI Book of Preserves, Jams Preserves & Chutneys by Margeurite Patten and The River Cottage Handbook - Preserves. There are also some great recipes and 'how to' information on the BBC Good Food magazine website. Jams will last for 6-12 months once you've made them if kept somewhere cool and dark and once they've been opened, they'll keep in the fridge for around 6 weeks. Image above - Watson Studios