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Monday, July 18, 2005

Jam Success

As I stated here, I've had quite a crop of berries this year. Too many to eat, I decided to conquer my fear of canning and attempt to make jelly. I had no idea where to begin. I had seen (and purchased) beautiful jars of homemade jam at the farmer's market; I knew that my grandmother made all sorts of preserves in her years on the farm but she passed away before my love of all things food came to the forefront. Never having done this before, I obviously didn't have any special equipment, if I needed any. My ultimate goal was to make jelly using only fruit juice and/or honey for sweetness, rather than sugar. Most jellys that I have purchased at the grocery store are too sweet (IMHO) and I wanted the natural flavor of the beautiful red raspberries that I picked in my own yard to really shine, rather than a syrupy sweet copy of a big-company product.

Luckily, I made my first stop: the Whole Foods Market. They directed me to Pectin. Pectin, I found out, is the exact thing I needed to make jelly without adding sugar.

Never having done this before, I actually took the time to READ THE DIRECTIONS from the pectin. The directions were clear... they told me exactly what I needed: some clean, sterile jars, fruit, lemon juice, apple juice concentrate and pectin.
What? That's it??? I've been afraid of that all this time? Wait a minute... the directions say, 'pour mashed fruit into a jelly bag and let drip'. What's a jelly bag? Crap... something I don't have. I did a quick search and found it. I figured I wouldn't be able to buy one just anywhere and really didn't feel like purchasing one anyway. Not to be discouraged, I forged ahead toward my jelly goal. After all, I had freshly picked berries in the kitchen just waiting to become something!

At some point in researching what exactly a jelly bag was and what it was used for, I realized it was to keep jelly from becoming cloudy with berry pulp. I didn't care about whether my product was cloudy... I'd simply change from calling it jelly to calling it jam... lack of jelly bag problem solved.

I knew I didn't want seeds in my jelly jam and I had made berry coulis in the past. Simple conversion from coulis to jam puree. I puree'd the berries and pressed them through a wire strainer to extract as much berry goodness from those pesky seeds as possible. It took a bit of elbow grease and I began to understand why farm women never had flabby arms.

In the end, I found this was the most difficult part of making jam. The whole process is not really very time-consuming either. I made my first batch of jam (from beginning puree to sealed jars of jam) in just a couple of hours.

With the type of pectin I used, the jam takes a bit of time to fully gel. I allowed mine to sit in the fridge overnight before testing it. The consistency was perfect but I realized some of the berries I had picked were not completely ripe and the jam was too tangy... even for me. According to the directions, I could simply remove the jam from the jars, heat it back up and add sweetener to my liking, then re-sterilize, re-fill, and re-seal the jars.

A word of caution: don't take your eyes off the jam heating in the pot.

My jam pot runneth over.

The final product (after I added honey) is still tangy but quite good on toast.


Don't forget, I still had the black raspberries that I had picked and frozen before we went on vacation. It was really a small amount (only about 1 cup of puree, in the end) so I decided, since I was already an old pro in the jam business, I'd get fancy with this last batch. I had a couple of fresh, ripe mangoes in the fridge which I pureed and added to the black raspberries. This ended up being much sweeter than the red raspberry jam... almost too sweet for my morning toast, but it might be good baked in some turn-overs.

Now that I'm experienced in jam production, I might just experiment with other flavors and variations. In the meantime, I have too much jam! So, dear readers... if you've read this far and are so inclined, please reply in the comments section including your email address (it's not visible to anyone but me) and I will be happy to snail mail you a jar of my delicious jam. Please specify (sweet) Black Raspberry Mango Jam (only 2 jars available) or (tangy) Red Raspberry Jam. Both are sugar free and seedless. The first 5 responders will receive their choice. All other jars will then be available for purchase on ebay.

8 comments:

B O B said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Grommie said...

Thanks for your response Bob... I got your address and your jam will be on its way soon!

I would suggest to others, for safety's sake... don't post your address here... simply wave a hand and include your email address in the login section and I'll privately email you for your shipping address.

briank said...

You *KNOW* I want some!

BTW, frozen berries work fine once Old Man Winter comes a-knockin'.

I think you have my address, but e-mail me if you don't.

Karan said...

Too tangy jam is perfect on ice cream! I love to make blackberry jam every August. Your black raspberries had me go all Pavlov for blackberries....only a few weeks to wait...yum!

briank said...

Oh, P.S., I want the black raspberry-mango stuff if you still have it. Otherwise, plain old raspberry will be fine.

coof said...

may i have a raspberry jam?

Grommie said...

We are down to just one jar of Red Raspberry Jam available. Not too tangy (any longer) and not too sweet... mmmm... who will it go to?

Anonymous said...

I'd relish (unavoidable, almost undetectable pun) a nice tangy Raspberry, either with mango or without.
Richard "Ain't got a Blogger account but detectable"