07/17/2013 08:49 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Don't Be Scared, It's Just Jam

Flickr: amiefedora

If you've never tried your hand at making homemade jam, reading the list of instructions can make it sound like something you never want to do. Actually, it can be downright intimidating. Between the pectin, sterilizing, and risk of giving yourself and everyone you love botulism, the stakes feel high when it comes to canning.

And while yes, all those steps and warnings are a necessary part of making jam, the risk of doing something wrong when making jam is no higher than any other dish you make. Jam making just has a bad reputation these days -- which is probably why only grandmothers (who know how easy it is) and serious home cooks seem to make it anymore. But making jam is one of the easiest things you can do in your kitchen, and one of the best ways to enjoy summer produce all year long.

We're going to to share a couple of key tips to help you through the process, because we think more people should be making jam. After all, why should you settle for overly-sweetened store-bought jam when you can be enjoying your own infinitely-better tasting jam on your morning toast?

Here are a few things you should know for jam-making success:

  • Have everything that you will need ready to use. Since things happen a little quickly when making jam, it's nice to have all your tools at the ready.
  • Take the time to test the jam's doneness. It's better to make sure that your jam is the right consistency than to rush through it and be disappointed with the results.
  • Don't skimp on the sugar. You might be tempted to add less sugar to your jam, but if you're a beginner it's best to follow the recipe to a tee. Because the sugar in jelly is not just for sweetening, but for helping it gel and preserving it too. Wait to tweak recipes until you have more experience.
  • Make smaller batches. It'll just be easier to manage until you get the hang of it.
  • Just know that once you've made jam a couple of times, the whole process will become second nature to you and you won't have to sweat a thing. So make jam, and make it often.

Use the tips above with any of your favorite jam recipes, or try them on some of our favorites like this apricot jam or this late raspberry jam recipe.

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Now that you've made jelly, use it in these dessert recipes.

Peanut Butter And Jelly Recipes

This story appears in Issue 72 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, available Friday, Oct. 25 in the iTunes App store.