Be a jam maker - nectarine jam

25 January 2011
Here in our neck of the woods, summer is a time for stone fruits and jam making.  Hanno found a good bargain at Aldi during the week - premium yellow nectarines for $2.99 a kilo (2.2 pounds)  He bought three trays.  I didn't have time to make the jam so when Hanno said he'd make it, all it took was a quick lesson and now we have the most delicious nectarine jam.

I don't know why more people don't make jam.  It's something all our grannies and great grannies knew a lot about.   If they didn't make their own jam, they went without it.  Unlike us, they didn't have shelves of jam waiting to be bought at the local supermarket.  But I think that jam is inferior to what you make at home and if you look at the ingredient panel, many jams are full of additives and not just the few simple ingredients that make up homemade jam - fruit, sugar and lemon; sometimes, depending on the type of jam, there is pectin as well.  I wonder what it's made from, where the fruit grew, how old it was when it was processed, was it fine fruit or leftovers that couldn't be used for much else, how far did the fruit travel to the jam processor, how far did the jar of jam travel to get to me.  If I can improve on any of those things, I'm ahead.

To make our nectarine jam, Hanno washed the fruit, including quite a few that were under ripe, and cut them into chunks.  He discarded the seeds but used the skins.  You need a wide saucepan for jam making because you want maximum evaporation.  All the fruit went into a big stockpot and weighed - four kilos (almost 9 lbs).  We knew then we had to add half that weight in sugar.  He washed two lemons, cut them in half and threw the half lemons, squeezed of their juice, into the pot with the fruit.  The pot was set on the stove and while he prepared his jars, the jam started cooking.  Frequent stirring is needed because you don't want burnt jam and you want to squash the fruit.  We used the potato masher to get the consistency we wanted.  Thirty minutes later, the jam was ready, the lemons removed and the jars filled.

That four kilos of fruit made two litres of jam - or eight normal sized jam jars.  Now, lets see.  The fruit (4 kg) cost $12, 2kg sugar cost about $2.50, two lemons about $1 and the gas to cook it on and to sterilise the jars, about 50 cents, which comes to $16.  We got eight jars, so $2 per jar for top quality jam.  That's about $3 - $4 less than the premium jams at the supermarket, and we know exactly what's in ours.  We still have a couple of bowls full of nectarines for eating fresh and another tray for more jam.  That will probably happen on Wednesday because today I'm going back to the neighbourhood centre to do a soap making workshop.

Look at the colour of that jam.  Good jam always holds the colour of the original fruit, without added colouring.

We didn't process our jam in a water bath because it will store very nicely in the fridge for at least six months. Had I wanted to keep it longer, I'd have processed it further.  And that's what we'll discuss tomorrow - processing jam in a water bath the frugal way - with no special equipment.

It doesn't matter why you make jam - because it's cheaper, better quality, you know what's in it, it's local or because you want to make as much for yourself as you can and keep your skills up to date - it's a lovely thing to do and it's really easy.  So start collecting old jam jars to recycle for your own jam and when you see fruit that's cheap and so good you can't walk past, grab it, take it home and be a jam maker.  You won't regret it.


  1. Great post! I love to make jam and make lots of it. I generally make mine in the Fall, since it is just too hot here in the summer.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Yum! Your jam looks gorgeous! I'm missing summer here in the Northern Hemisphere. :) I love to make jam. We grow berries and have a pear tree and live close to some peach farms, so all three get made into jams and fruit sauces. I give away baskets of homemade jams, pickles, and relishes each year, and everyone seems to really look forward to them.

  3. Oh this looks soooo good, can't wait to make some jam this spring!!!

  4. How inspiring! Here in the US, we are in the middle of winter still, but fruit will be coming before we know it. This year I want to make jam (for the first time!) with the fruit when it is in season locally.

    I anxiously await your post on processing with a water bath!

  5. Yummy! yummy! excellent post as always, Rhonda(great pics:)!


  6. I have been doing this also when I see the fruit cheap,I did the strawberries the same way and the jam is to die for!same way you did yours,I was also given bags of peaches and made a syrup of sugar and water, bought it to the simmer and dropped the peeled and halved peaches in for 10 minutes until nice and soft, then jarred them as I would the bread and butter cucumbers,these are yummy and will keeep a long time(the jars are sterised too I forgot to add).I do not think we will ever eat another tinned peach!or bought jam..thanks Rhonda a great post i was so happy I already do something that has come along lol.Carole

  7. Dear Rhonda, That looks so easy and very do-able in the home kitchen :) :) Thank you for the nice tutorial. As a sidenote, I think it's very sweet that Hanno asked to help. My dad is like that, too. He's so helpful. !!! Have a lovely week. Enjoy the apricot jam :) :) Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

  8. Oh, your jam look scrumptious, and such a beautiful color. Do you know if I can use the nectarines in my freezer to make nectarine jam? I can nectarines, but have never made jam from them.

  9. I've made freezer jam before, but was never confident enough to make jam and process it in a water bath. BUT I just took a canning class (free!) at our local county extension office, and am now inspired to try it. The instructor made strawberry orange marmalade as a demonstration, and it was delicious. It's getting on to peak strawberry season here in west central FL, and we still have oranges on our tree, so I think that's going to be the first one I try.

  10. I enjoy making and eating homemade jam. Last summer I made marrow jam for the first time its fantastic the little bits of marrow turn in to the most delicious nuggets of jammyness!

  11. Way to go Hanno... how wonderful to see him making jam. Just before Christmas I bought 10 kilos of peaches, as I am very fond of peach jam, the kids ate a few kilos of the fruit and the rest went to jam. So economical and how much nicer than the store bought product. I had stopped making jams and pickles years ago, but when I found your blog 15 months ago, it rekindled the passion for so many things.

  12. I do like to make jam and jelly at home, but we just don't eat much of it. A few jars a year is all we go through.

  13. I love homemade jam. Santa bought me a book for Christmas called Windfalls by Sue Ruchel. I have yet to make from it yet, but have quite a few pages marked ready to go. It's even a lovely read in itself. Thanks for the Aldi tip, going to have to keep an eye out. Hmmmm, homemade jam on home made bread. It's the simple things that make life so good.

  14. I love making jam, the year before last we made a lot of blueberry jam. We got a large discount out blueberries and I made so much jam, that we gave a lot away and had so much left it lasted us a whole year! Jam is a very easy thing to make. Yours looks so yummy.


  15. Well done with the post Rhonda, I think there should be more jam making in the world......I grew up taking turns at stirring jam for my mother and her my nan has passed and my mother is to ill to make jam, I have taken on the recipes and the challenge of it all.. the family think its great that they can still get a jam thats been in the family for generations......
    The colour of that jam is amazing....Well done Hanno!!!!

  16. The jam looks so yummy! As other commenters have said it's still cold in our area, but fresh jam and some warm biscuits sure sounds good..
    I bookmarked this posting: for fruit season :)
    Thank You & Hanno for the inspiration :)

  17. My dad always made the jam in our house and it was good. I only started again a couple of years ago and haven't had to buy shop jam since. Love the photos of Hanno.

    Rose gave me a pot of her nectarine jam but I'm afraid it didn't last long when the family found it. It was delicious.

  18. Go Hanno! What a great help and the jam turned out beautiful! I might have to try my hand at making some this year. Posts like yours today is exactly what I need to keep hopeful about warm weather. It's still very cold in my neck of the woods :-(

    Enjoy the yummy looking jam.


  19. I love to make jam too! I made my own strawberry and peach jam last summer (I live in the US.) We have one peach jar left, but there is only a half jar left! We will go without until strawberry season though. My plan for this summer is preserve more jam!

  20. I never realised how easy jam making would be! Now I must give it a go.

    Just a note on Aldi, I'm not sure what the stores are like in Queensland, but the Aldi that I go in Melbourne has terrible fruit and vegies. I've bought nectarines, capsicum and even sweet potatos that, within a day or two after purchase, have grown some kind of mould or started to rot.

    I usually try to buy my fruit and vegetables from a market, and wont be giving Aldi any more chances! It is great that you grow much of the food that you eat is grown in your garden - this is the next step for us.

    Thank you for the great jam-making tips!

    xx Claire

  21. Great encouragment Rhonda. I made nectarine Jelly this year - similar to quince jelly as I found the peach and nectarine jelly did not store as long as the other jams I make and thought the jelly may do better :-)
    This week I am making strawberry and plum and black raspberry jams.
    It is exciting to read of others getting into the preserving/homemaking lifestlye. Bless you
    Karen - NZ

  22. I make jam and just love it! :)
    I agree with you, why don't more people make it? :)

    I hope you are having a lovely week!!! xo

  23. Hello Rhonda Yes I love homemade jam, no preservatives. I try to make at least one kind a year. The nectarines made nice coloured jam. It looks delicious.
    I only made wild grape jelly this year. I have made peach jam a couple of times.It makes a nice gift. I gave two jars of grape jelly away yesterday. People love it. B

  24. How funny that you are talking about jam! I've been thinking about jam all day because this morning we planted a quince tree...and although I make a lot of dishes with quinces, my favorite is the mouth watering jam you can make from it. Are quinces well known in Australia?

    That nectarine jam looks superb!

  25. I love making marmalade, usually in the winter because that is when our orange trees are ripe

  26. I've never had success with jam, but I love how easy juice jelly is. It's much cheaper than the stuff in the store, even buying organic juice to make it. I love know what is (and isn't) in it!
    Everyone always loves the way it turns out as well. The store stuff just isn't as good.

  27. What a great post! I love the idea of preserving fruits. Looking fwd to the water bath post!

  28. I made jam for the first time last fall -- peach jam. It is quite good. Plus, since, so far, I'm the only one who eats it, it gives me great hostess gifts for when we are visiting someone or I just need a gift to give! Last Christmas, it was handy to take 2 or 3 jars and hand them out as we stayed with family as apart of our gift to them (when grandparents already have all they need, its a great gift!).

  29. Dear Rhonda,

    there is still one question left for me: what is the best and simplest way to clean the jars? I have no special equipments to make my own jams or any other foodstock, but love to give it a try. Can you give us any advise on how to clean and store the (empty) jars? I really love to learn about that item, because I truly lóve homemade jams! Ans I also want to do more with foodstorage. Now everything is going into the freezer, but I love to have some foodjars on the shelves.
    Hope you can give me (us) some advise!

    Love from Holland,

  30. It looks delicious! You don't need to water bath jars of jam or jelly. You can use the inversion method. With a new lid, screw the cap on tight and flip upside down for 10 minutes. Flip right side up and you will start hearing the best sound in the world - pings of the jars sealing. Have been doing it this way for years, and generations if you count my mom and grandmama and great grandmama doing it this way.

  31. Your jam looks delicious. I really like the fact you took the time to figure out the cost. That is something we really have to do sometimes, remembering homemade jam is 100% natural.

    Thanks for this post.


  32. Mmmm, your jam looks delicious! And what a lovely colour! You cannot beat homemade jam- commercial jam does not compare.

    We can't grow nectarines here, but peach jam does just as well. Sometimes I make jelly out of my fruit first and then use the pulp to make a creamy, thick jam. It is so nice to have in the winter when all the beautiful colours and tastes of summer are gone.
    The Girl in the Pink Dress

  33. We have an uncle who shares his homegrown and canned goodies with us every Christmas. This year, my favorite jam was blueberry! Oh yum!!!

  34. That looks yummy! We just emptied our last jar of homemade jam, and (darn it!) it is the middle of winter here. I'm looking around for something seasonal to make jam out of. Can you make jam from squash or potatoes?!!

  35. I really like nectarine but haven't tried making jam but I did some pie fillings out of nectarines.

    Coffee is on.

  36. My grandmother always made plum jam .. and I can still envision her in the kitchen making it. Homemade is superior to any supermarket .. mass produced jam by far. It's winter in my neck of the woods .. seeing those nectarines is making me long for summer's goodness. Enjoy!

  37. Root and Twig: I don't know about potato jam, but you can certainly make squash jam!
    It gets thick and 'jammy' rather than needing to set like nectarine or strawberry jam, say, but is delicious. There are lots of recipes on the net for Pumpkin Jam, but try this recipe
    Fiona's recipes are usually spot on (I highly recommend her Pear and Lemon jam)!
    Happy jam making!

  38. A really helpful post, thank you Rhonda.
    The jams we buy today are just so runny and helpless!
    I'm inspired!

  39. I too am a jam maker.
    Last week I was given Satsuma plums(my favourite for jam)and first made chilli and plum sauce which is a favourite in our household. Though I do still have one bottle from the last batch that is nearly 4 years old! Also made plum jam.
    Next on the agenda is tomato sauce, I managed to get tomatoes fairly cheaply at $2.99/kg. And with 5 kids, tomato sauce is a highly consumed item. I want to give them a nasties free version.
    Already in my jam cupboard is lots of cumquat marmalade(fruit free from a friend), which is so pretty and delicious!Also lots of mulberry and apple jam(fruit free from Granparents house).
    Next jam fruit I am seeking cheap is strawberries for my strawberry and apple jam. Oh, and Hubby has requested some sort of relish. And eagerly awaiting quince season to make mor quince paste and maybe some jelly too.
    Funny thing is we don't use a lot of jam. The kids don't eat it, Hubby will have a fad once in a blue moon. I have it on toast, but am not really eating toast at the moment.
    But I do like to have a nice selection on hand, and it lasts for years. Having moved from WA 12 months ago,I am rebuilding my stash of jams and sauces as I let it run down for the move and only brought the absolute faves that were left over and handed the rest on to others.
    PS. After seeing your preserves tool kit a few weeks ago, I had a snoop at the local kitchenware shop that was having 30% off everything. And got my own exactly the same!

  40. Good job Hanno!! I made strawberry jam from my own strawberries last year for the first time. We just finished up the last jar. I notice that yor jars look like they are re-used jam or condiment jars. If so, have you had any trouble?
    Thanks! I love your blog!!

  41. Be warned! Once you start making homemade jam it is impossible to go back to eating store bought. I have been making my own from mostly home grown fruit and blackberries gathered growing wild in the padoocks for 5 or 6 years now and have become obssessed with the amazing quality and taste of my jams. I always look forward to preserving season and experimenting with different fruit combinations. I know it is fresh and healthy with less sugar and no preservatives. I don't bother with the water bath and my jam still keeps well in a dark cupboard for 12 months.

  42. Hanno's jam looks wonderful!
    I've neglected my jam making of late but when the next lot of citrus ripens about March I'll have orange and lemon marmalade and also lemon butter (or curd).

  43. We love nectarine jam!!! I try & make some each year during this season as stone fruit is quite cheap down here where it's grown. I had enough nectarine jam to get us through last year, but haven't made any this season - thanks for the reminder - I think the fruit man will be in town tomorrow, so I'd better go & get some & make some jam for us all!
    Happy Australia Day to you & your family

  44. I'm sure it's addictive, jam making that is. I love making up a big batch, and then lining up all the lovely jars.

  45. Thanks for this post, Rhonda.

    I made nectarine jam last night. Had it this morning on buttermilk pancakes (made using buttermilk left over from butter making yesterday).

    Your blog is in inspiration for a 28yo stay-at-home mum of three.

  46. This is a wonderful post! I'm about to get into the huge two boxes of nectarines I have, and was researching recipes. Glad I found your post - you have made it seem easy, and I'm ready to make my own...wish me luck!

  47. Great post there and the results look just fantastic! Wonder if I can find a supermarket open now to go and 'fruit up' :)

    thanks for the information



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