How to make large batch preserves for catering

How to make large batch preserves for catering

There are many good things about making your own preserves (jams, chutneys and pickles) they`re tasty, nutritious, they can jazz up the most mundane of meals and last, but by no means least, made in bulk they`re extremely cost effective. If you package them attractively you can sell them, too.


There is a knack to cooking preserves in bulk though. It can get messy, so most of all it`s worth investing in good-quality equipment that will last for years, including:

  • Preserving pan. This should be a tall, thick-based stainless steel pan.
  • Scales/measuring jug. Opt for those with metric and imperial measurements.
  • Sugar Thermometer. This is the most accurate way to test if the jam has reached its setting point.
  • Heat-proof jug or wide-necked funnel. Using these to pour the preserve into the jars avoids a sticky mess.
  • Spoon. Use a long-handled wooden spoon to stir the jam and a perforated stainless steel spoon to scoop out fruit stones and scummy residue.
  • Glass jars. Choose from screw top jars, Kilner jars or clip top jars but they must be airtight.
  • Covers, wax circles and labels.


Now you have the right equipment, check out these tips for your bulk preserve making:

Fruit:   make sure your fruit is dry and without mould or blemish. Rinse harder fruit such as blackcurrants beforehand but avoid washing softer fruit such as raspberries.

Sugar:   you can use jam sugar with added pectin which helps the jam to set or try cane sugar, adding your own powdered or liquid pectin. As a general rule of thumb, most jams are made with 1kg of fruit to 1kg of sugar for high pectin fruit, such as apples, plums, gooseberries or 1kg fruit to 750g sugar for low pectin fruit including blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and cherries.
The setting point at this crucial moment use your sugar thermometer to check the boiling temperature of the fruit and sugars, which should be at 1055C or 2200F for several minutes.
Sterilise wash your jars and lids thoroughly, preferably in the dishwasher, dry and sterilise them in the oven at gas mark 1,1400C/2755F for around 10 minutes. Take care with rubber seals on lids.
Be careful hot jam can scald so use plenty of cold running water if you do burn your fingers. Don`t pour very hot jam into cold jars as they may crack.
Seal carefully seal the jars soon after filling them to stop germs from getting in. Place a wax circle, wax side down, on top of the jam and use either a plastic coated screw top lid or cellophane covers with fine string and avoid rubber bands as they will perish.
Label let the jars cool before labelling with the type of preserve, date and a list of ingredients. You can either buy labels or make your own using your computer.


Finally, it`s worth repeating that you cannot be too careful when buying equipment. It pays to shop around as you can find top-quality equipment at realistic prices from suppliers, such as Wares of Knutsford. If all goes to plan, you will probably be using the same pan in 10 years` time and it will have paid for itself 1000 times over!