Monday, July 22, 2013


Back in late winter, when it was so cold out but the sunshine was teasing us into thinking spring was near, I talked a bit about jam.  I love making jam.  I always think fruit is more fun than vegetables.  As a child you always heard, "eat your vegetables, they're good for you" while you were sitting behind a plate of some veggie that you didn't really like (or thought you didn't like).  Whereas, when we wanted a snack, instead of candy or pudding, we were given fruit.  So fruit always stuck as being "fun".  

When I make jam, I think I am taking that fun to another level.  There is so much you can do with jam, and it's all yummy.  And I make a lot of it.  A friend told me that she thought I made it all at once when the fruit is in season and for the most part I do.  

When I get berries especially, I don't always have time to process them all at once.  Here is a great trick that you can use even if you find a really great sale at the grocery or farmer's market.  I found some restaurant style sheet pans on Amazon really cheap, but you can just use your cookie sheet.  I line them with wax paper and I spread the unwashed berries on the wax paper in a single layer.  It's important to wash them before you use them and not before you freeze them because they can get mushy as they thaw if they're washed first.  I put the trays in the freezer until the berries are frozen and then transfer them to good Ziploc freezer bags.  Here's how they look frozen:

This lets me get the most fruit when it is in season and use it as I have time. 

Making jam is easy.  It is simply a matter of mixing fruit and pectin and bring that to a boil.  When it is boiling you dump in sugar, usually a LOT of sugar when it comes back to a boil, you boil it for a couple of minutes.  That's all there is to making it.  Each fruit takes a little different amount of sugar, so I'm not giving weights or measurements of fruit or sugar.  Generally, your pectin will have instructions in it for simple fruit jams.

To can the jam, you simply ladle it into hot canning jars then wipe the rims with a clean damp cloth.  This is important because when you put the lid and ring on it, you won't get a seal if the rim has any fruit on it and your jam will spoil.  Once you're sure the rim is clean, put on the lid (that has been waiting in a bowl of warm water to pre-soften the sealing material) and put on the ring.  Don't over tighten the ring or you can ruin the seal.  The jars will need to process through a water bath canner.  All this really is is a large pot, mine is enamel coated, that has a rack of some sort in the bottom so the jars aren't sitting directly on the bottom of the pot (so they don't break) and is deep enough for there to be enough water to cover the jars by 1".  You boil the water in the canner for 10 minutes and then set the jars out to cool.  Don't fool with them until they're cool.  You'll hear the popping and tinking of the lids making the seal.  It's a wonderful sound.

By putting the fruit in the freezer until I can get it all processed into jam, I'm able to make a bunch at once too.  Don't mind my dog photo bombing the picture!

Jam is also for more than just biscuits and toast or peanut butter and jam sandwiches.  My kids will put a spoon of it in oatmeal or grits or cream of wheat.  It makes a great pancake or waffle topping.  My husband love to melt a little bit in the microwave (it doesn't take long) and uses it as ice cream topping.  I have found many recipes for bbq sauce using blackberry jam.  

Jam is fun, but don't forget to eat your veggies too.  They're good for you!

No comments:

Post a Comment