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The Can It Academy Series: 2 of 12

making jam

Class #2 of the Can It Academy Food Preservation and Cottage Arts Certificate Program: Jams and Jellies

This week’s preserves class was just as educational as last week’s. Chef Miller’s lecture was part preserves / part science lesson. But I guess cooking/baking/canning is a lot more science than most of us want to consider. That’s why existing recipes are so awesome… someone already did the work for you! But knowing the science behind it definitely gives you the confidence to do more of your own recipe development.

There are different types of preserves Chef Miller touched on:

  • Jam: Contains bits of fruit with the natural juices
  • Jelly: Clear natural juices only, set up so it doesn’t fall apart
  • Marmalade: Like a jam, but also containing citrus peel
  • Conserve: Two or more fruits combined in a jam consistency and often containing dried fruit and nuts, as well
  • Fruit Butter: The puree of fruit, reduced down until no free liquid is left
  • Fruit Cheese: Fruit butter with sugar, dehydrated until sliceable

We talked a lot about pectin. Last week we made our own natural pectin from apples, but that’s a lot of work to make – especially if you don’t have 20+ pounds of apples laying around to peel and core. I’m all about making things as natural as possible, but unless you have a constant supply of apples, that’s hard for a home cook. Chef Miller brought in some samples of store bought pectin and I’ve used some organic/vegan varieties, as well. And, deepening on the fruit, you may not need any pectin at all.

pectin

The first recipe we worked on was plum jam. I’ve always wondered about reducing some sugar off jam/jelly recipes. But, after our science lesson, I realize that sugar isn’t just for flavor – it’s what preserves the fruit (sugar and honey are natural preservatives). {I could go on about how the sugar molecules have a thing for water and band together with the pectin molecules to capture the water, which in turn helps prevent the growth of bacteria, etc, etc… but that’s what Wikipedia is for.} So preserves have a lot of sugar.  But here’s the thing to remember: If you are making these at home, then the ratio of sugar-to-fruit is nothing like the store-bought variety, so just go for it and don’t reduce the sugar called for in the recipe… unless you want to do a science experiment.

Chop up your (not overripe) plums into small pieces and add to your pot with the sugar and lemon juice

plum jam

plum preserves

plum preserves

If you are doing a huge batch, make sure to split it up into two pots for the best cooking.  You want wide and tall.  Look at that gorgeous Copper Jam Pan
we got to use! (And our awesome Can It Academy aprons that Food Forward provided!)

plum preserves

plum jam

There are three great ways to tell if you preserves have set up:

  • Temperature: between 216-224 degrees, at sea level. (I want one of these Thermometers)
  • Frozen plate test: Put a dish in your freezer when you start chopping your fruit.  When you think your jam is ready, place a dollop of it on the frozen plate and put back in the freezer for one minute. Press your finger into the jam and if it wrinkles a bit – it’s ready.
  • Spoon test: Look for a thick set.

plum jam

Add your jam into your warm jars and place into the water bath for 10 minutes (for half pint jars).

plum preserves

plum jam

We also made a pomegranate jelly. Using fresh juice extracted from the fruit is obviously the best, but, since extracting the juice from pomegranates can be a long process, for the class we used bottled juice. (Make sure to buy the refrigerated variety that’s natural with no additives).

pomegranate jelly

pomegranate jelly

pomegranate jelly

Scrape the top layer of foam off once you’re done boiling, if you wish.

pomegranate jelly

pomegranate jelly

plum preserves

Our finished plum jam:

plum jam

Our finished pomegranate jelly:

pomegranate jelly

Takeaways from class#2:

  • 80% of jams and jellies are made from only eight types of fruits.  Making your own opens up a world of preserve possibilities!
  • Use a wide pot to help with evaporation and don’t fill more then 1/3 full, as it may boil over. Look for a thick-bottomed, tall pot, preferably 12 quarts.
  • To keep your jars from showing signs of mineralization, add a splash of vinegar to the water bath!

Follow the Can it Academy series:

Make sure to stop by next week as we move away from fruit preserves and into other food preservation techniques!

Plum Jam

8 half-pint jars

Plum Jam

use organic and locally purchased whenever possible

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs plums (not overly ripe) chopped
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Prepare canner, jars, and lids.
  2. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine plums, sugar, and lemon juice.
  3. Allow to macerate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Bring to a boil over med-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking and burning until sugar dissolves.
  5. Cook until the jellying point (216-224 deg at sea level).
  6. Test for set point - if not set, cook for another two minutes and retest.
  7. Pour hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4" headspace.
  8. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, ir necessary, by adding hot jam.
  9. Wipe rim.
  10. Center lid on jar.
  11. Screw band down until finger-tip tight.
  12. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.
  13. Bring to a boil and process jars for 10 minutes.
  14. Remove jars, cool, clean, label, and journal.

Notes

recipe from: National Center for Home Preservation

http://farmtotablela.com/can-academy-series-2-12/

 

 

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8 Comments

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    Lisa
    October 6, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    This looks amazing! Thanks for linking up with “Try a New Recipe Tuesday.” Hope you can join us again this week. http://our4kiddos.blogspot.com/2014/10/try-new-recipe-tuesday-october-7.html

    • Reply
      Farm to Table
      October 6, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      Thanks Lisa. The class is great and the jams totally delish!

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