So my obsession with jelly and jam making is becoming more and more, well, obsessive.
I’m starting this journey now and will be experimenting throughout the winter so that I will actually be good at the art of preserves by the time the fruit seasons are in their prime.
If anyone knows of good places for picking fresh fruit, send me an email and I’ll file that knowledge away for when it’s time.
A few weeks ago I tried an apple jelly that I was quite pleased with, so this past weekend I spent too much money and time on fruits and jars and got to work.
My grand experiment was to try a handful of different recipes from a website I found from the Nation Center for Home Food Preparation, http://nchfp.uga.edu/, that has dozens of recipes and instructions for home canning and preserving. I can’t confirm or deny the notion that I’ve spent inordinate amounts of time on that site lately.
Part of my experiment was to substitute coconut sugar for regular sugar in one of the jams to see how much of a difference that makes.
Not the best idea I’ve had.
Pineapple jam calls for:
1 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple
3 tbsps. lemon juice
3 1/4 cups sugar
1 pouch of liquid pectin.
Combine the pineapple, lemon juice and sugar in a large pot and stir well. Bring to a boil over high heat and stir constantly. Once it reaches a boil, let it boil hard for one minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the pectin.
I made this with the coconut sugar first. The sugar tastes good, would probably be great in baked goods or coffee, but turned my pineapple jam a rough looking dark brown color.
Not the most appetizing color for jam.
Also smelled a little like it was burnt, so I’m calling that an all around failure.
Same recipe made with regular sugar turned out great.
Their grape jelly recipe was really simple as well.
6 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups water
2 pouches liquid pectin
18 oz. frozen grape juice concentrate.
Combine the sugar and water stirring constantly over high heat. Bring this mixture to a rolling boil, then allow to boil for one minute.
Remove from the heat and stir in the liquid pectin. Once that’s stirred in fully, add the thawed grape juice concentrate and stir.
By far, my favorite was a strawberry-kiwi jam. The only one of these to call for fresh fruits and the most complicated as well, but definitely tastes great.
For this one you’ll need:
3 cups crushed strawberries
3 kiwi, peeled and diced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp minced crystallized ginger
1 package powdered pectin
5 cups sugar
I just cut the stems off of the strawberries and tossed them in the food processor. Diced the kiwi the same way, but not for as long in the food processor to allow them to be a slightly larger size.
Toss both of those in a large pot with the lemon juice, pectin and ginger and bring that to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the sugar and stir well.
Once boiling again, let it roll for about a minute, continuing to stir.
With all of the jams and jellies, skim any foam from the top and ladle into jars.
You can get detailed instructions on the jarring process online and in many books, but the basics are, clean the rims, place the sterilized lids on the jars, submerge in boiling water for 5-10 minutes. The next day, if the center of the lids are popped up, open, clean, put new lids on and boil again.
One really helpful tip I got before starting to make jams was to put a tablespoon of butter into the pot with the fruit to reduce the foam that needs to be skimmed. Using Earth Balance margarine does the trick, but keeps the jams vegan.