How to Fill, Seal and Store Jars of Preserves
Most jams and chunteys should be potted as soon as setting point is reached. The exception are marmalades which can be left to cool slightly as this will stop the peel from floating to the top. Pour or ladle your preserve into warm jars – this prevents the preserve from cooling before you’ve had chance to seal it. Always fully-fill jars and seal straight away. With chutneys and other ‘chunky’ preserves tap the side of the jar to remove any air pockets.
There are two main ways you can seal jars of jam, jelly or marmalade – either with wax discs and celophane lids or with a twist-top lid. To use the wax discs and cellophane covers, place the disc wax-side down on the surface of the hot preserve. Moisten the cellophane cover with a drop of water, stretch over the jar and secure with an elastic band. The moistened side of the cellophane should be on the outside. If you like you jams to look as good as they taste , you can then make an outer cover from a piece of paper or fabric cut in circle and tied with a ribbon or string.
For chutneys and other vinegar-based preserves, it’s best to use a plastic-lined twist on lid. Screw the lid on as soon as you’ve filled the jar with and make sure it’s on tightly.
*a note on recycling – I generally recycle my jars but not my lids. I buy replacement lids from Lakeland and these seem to fit quite a range of jars. For the jars that I can’t get lids to fit, I use cellophane covers. I also use these for preserves that I’m giving as gifts as I think they look prettier!
Store preserves in a cool, dark place such as a larder, cellar, garage or shed. Most jams and chutneys will keep for at least a year (and chutneys benefit from having a little time to mature) but there are exceptions:
- Fruit curds should be used within 4 weeks.
- Uncooked condiments and relishes, such as pesto, should be used within 3 weeks.
- Low-sugar/fridge jams can be kept for up to 6 months but need to be kept in the fridge once opened and used within 2 – 3 weeks.
Personally, to tell if a preserve is past it’s best, I find it best to trust my nose. If it smells funny, it’s probably not good to eat!