The Jam Plan
We like to give friends and family handmade presents for Christmas, so we usually start planning in the summer to make sure we have time to put everything together. We can also take advantage of all the fruits and vegetables that are in season at that point.
One of our most-enjoyed gifts has been a homemade jam sampler pack. Creating your own sampler is as easy as picking a few different jams to make and putting the jars together in attractive packaging.
If you’re new to making jam, Kraft has some basic recipes with detailed instructions and how-to videos that use SURE-JELL CERTO Liquid Fruit Pectin. We have been making their peach and strawberry jams for years and they always stay favorites. Just be careful to use fresh CERTO and follow all their instructions precisely to ensure the jam sets properly.
If you’d like to branch out a little more, Southern Living’s Little Jars, Big Flavors is a really fun cookbook. It has unique jams like Peach-Bourbon and Blueberry-Lemon and makes small batches so you can try out a variety. (Make sure you’re looking at recipes that are “for the shelf” and will store up to a year.)
If you haven’t done any canning before, you’ll need to pull together some tools in addition to your recipe ingredients. Our Canning Primer can help you get started.
Once your jam is made, be sure to create labels for it. Avery has a wide variety of labels to choose from, but we especially like their small Textured Oval Labels. Avery also has a ton of free templates you can use to create your labels. You simply put in your product number, select from the designs, make your customizations, and print on the label paper. At a minimum, include what the item is as well as when it was made on the label.
Many of the Avery templates have corresponding designs for other products, such as the gift tags you’ll need. This makes it very easy to have everything for your sampler coordinate and look quite professional.
We like to dress up our individual jam jars after we get them labeled. Sometimes we’ll simply tie a piece of thin ribbon, twine, lace, or raffia around the top, other times we’ll cover the top with fabric first. We’ve put together detailed instructions on how to do the later.
After that, it’s simply a matter of choosing your packaging. You can put your jam in a box, basket, or really any other container you like. We’ll generally just see what our various craft stores happen to have on hand at the time that inspires us. Depending on your container, you may need to fill it with paper shred to nestle your jars in or line it with a piece of fabric. If you’re not using something with a cover that will be tied on or otherwise secured, consider shrink wrapping it so jars won’t tip or fall out.
If you’ve missed the summer fruit season but still like the idea of giving jam for your holiday gifts, take advantage of winter citrus and make orange marmalade.
It’s the perfect start for an easy breakfast basket. Line a pretty basket or other container with a square of fabric, add a jar of orange marmalade, a loaf of Cranberry Nut Bread, and a bag of nice coffee or hot chocolate.
Homemade jams are also useful to keep on hand for a variety of occasions beyond Christmas. Any time you need a hostess gift or housewarming present, you’ll have an easy and unique option at the ready.