I can’t be the only person who used to find recipes that casually stated ’pour into sterilised jars’, a little bit annoying. What if you’re not a seasoned pro of a jam-maker, and therefore have no idea how to sterilise jars? It makes the whole thing sound oddly clinical, like sterilised jars are something you could buy ready-sealed, in the fashion of needles and plasters, just awaiting the receipt of your glorious ladles of jam.
So, to clear up any mystery, here’s a handy guide on how to sterilise jam jars (not just for jam, of course, this works for chutney, relish, pickles, preserves , anything else you might want to store away for a few months). There are a few methods out there, including running the jars and lids through the dishwasher, but I find this a bit impractical: you don’t really want to stick the dishwasher on for a handful of jars, if there’s no other washing up to be done. It seems a waste of water. Plus you then have to be very accurate with your timings, ensuring the dishwasher is ready by the time your jam is, and jam readiness is not always an easy thing to predict.
This is the method I find the most practical and the easiest.
Here's what you'll need...
- Jam jars and matching lids. I find it’s best to use a selection of different sizes, so that if you end up with a small amount of jam/chutney/etc. left in the pan, you’ve got a similarly small jar to put it in. You can, of course, use whatever sizes you like.
- Washing up liquid and hot water
- An oven