Published July 1, 1998.
For jam that jells easily and has real fruit flavor, make small batches and use far less sugar than you think you need.
The cooking method for jam is simple. But, as anyone who has ever tried to turn a lug of fruit into jam, jelly, or preserves can testify, making them is not necessarily easy.
To our way of thinking, the ideal jam is lightly sweetened and tastes of fresh fruit. It doesn't need to set up as firmly as commercial jams do, but it shouldn't be syrupy, either. We wanted a jam that would give us these results without the need for canning.
We were surprised to find that our success would depend on an often overlooked variable in jam making: quantity. Instead of going for 8 or 10 cups at a time, as most recipes do, we discovered that making a relatively small amount of jam at one time (this recipe produces about 2 1/2 cups) has several advantages. First, it allows for a thorough and even distribution of heat, which is crucial to proper jelling. It's also easier to observe the progress of a small amount of jam, so you're less likely to let it overcook (which gets in the way of proper jelling). Finally, since you're not making industrial quantities, there's no need for canning. You can store it in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks--if it lasts that long.list of recipes