Kitchen Tips

Sophie Gray's top tips for making your own preserves

Master the art of home preserving with Sophie Gray’s guide for getting it right. We've rounded up her top tips for making jams, marmalade, chutney and bottled fruit, as well as some of our best recipes so you can put it all into practice.

By Sophie Gray

Jam and marmalade:

  • Jam requires pectin to set. Some fruits, such as citrus, are high in pectin, others, including apricots, are low, with levels decreasing in riper fruit. Most fruits can be made into jam by either adding pectin in the form of a squeeze of lemon juice or by using a jam-setting sugar that contains added pectin. Blending a high and low pectin fruit together also works well, such as apple (high) and strawberry (low).
  • Work in smallish batches as large quantities take a long time to achieve a setting point, resulting in overcooked fruit with dull flavour.
  • Once setting point is reached, allow jam to settle off the heat for 10 minutes before filling the jars so the fruit is evenly distributed and bubbles have released.
Try it at home:


  • Chutney relies on sugar and vinegar as preservatives, so don't try to skimp on either as your efforts may spoil.
  • Most chutneys need to mature for several months after sealing, so plan to keep them on the shelf for three to six months before using.
  • You can use less than perfect produce in chutneys, including green tomatoes, windfall apples or end-of-season surpluses.
Try it at home:

Bottled fruit:

  • Plums, apricots, peaches, pears and even stewed fruits can be bottled to enjoy out of season. Choose firm fruit and lightly poach in a sugar syrup before bottling in the syrup.
  • Stone fruits such as plums and apricots can be bottled whole, which is quick and easy, or peel and slice to fit more into each jar. Run a long knife down the insides of the jar before sealing to release air bubbles.
Try it at home:
  • Prolong the taste of summer with these gorgeous fruit jars - you can choose from plum and vanilla, peaches, honey and rosemary or apricots and gingered sweet wine.
  • Go for a sugar-free option with these simple bottled peaches.
  • These preserved lemons add a wonderfully complex citrus note to both sweet and savoury dishes.