Simple jam making



With some time off between book edits this week, I was finally able to purchase the last remnant's of this summer's produce and tackle our family's canning needs before winter hits: 30 pounds of tomatoes and 20 pounds of fruit purchased from the farmer's market for $1/lb are now crushed, sauced, jammed and stored in our crawl space...  I never thought I'd get to it this season but now that I am all caught up, it feels so good to have it done!



Pretty, isn't it?


Some of you have asked for jam recipes. I follow a guideline rather than a recipe, but I thought I'd share it for those of you that have never tried making jam and are tempted to try. Jamming is an essential activity in our Zero Waste Home considering that we cannot find this sweet in bulk. With only two ingredients (no need for pectin or jelling additives), it is quick, easy, and simple - my kinda cooking ;). The only trick is to know when to take it off the heat: You want it to be neither runny nor overcooked (i.e, burned). 



Yum!


Jam Guideline

Heat equal weights of chopped fruit and bulk evaporated sugar in a large pot (it bubbles way up, so pick a container 3 times larger than the contents). Boil until jelled and pour into sterilized jars. And that's it!

To know if it has jelled, I do what I call a "Moses" test every so often. I run a drop of the mixture onto a cold plate and I strike it across with my finger. When the "red sea" stays open, i.e., the sides of jam do not close up on my finger's mark, it's ready. Cooking time depends on the water content of the fruit, but it always takes less than 30 minutes.

Sometimes I will also run the hand blender in the mixture before it starts boiling for a smoother jam (no pieces).

You can also use the instructions mentioned here to can your jam when you're done. I personally don't. I store it in a dark cold place and it keeps for over 6 months. Beyond that time, if mold grows on it, we simply scoop it up, and it's perfectly fine, but in our house, jam rarely lingers that long...

What will you be jamming?


39 comments:

  1. sarajean10/21/2012

    I love your blog. Your photos always look amazing!Keep up the good work!

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  2. Chevanne10/21/2012

    This summer I tried canning for the first time and was able to preserve some delicious peaches. I was even able to make peach lemonade with the juice. Now that I'm more comfortable with the process, I really want to can tomato sauce, jams and broth next year. During the winter months, though, I'm going to try canning soups. It's such a fun process that once you get started and find good recipes, you'll find it hard to buy anything from a package that you've successfully canned. It'll taste a lot better too.

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  3. 19 pints of raspberry jam from gift fruit and 15 pints of tomato sauce from my garden. Also 15 quarts of dill pickles and dilly beans. I am so glad you are back on line. I halved my garbage again and didn't have anyone to rave about it too!
    And yes, all those jars on the shelf are really beautiful!

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  4. nyumi, looks delicious, may I ask. interesting blog

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  5. I did jam this week too! Lots of peaches. I like the USDA canning site and Ball's site (freshpreserving.com). I used the ball jars though. How do these mason jars work with boiling water canning?

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  6. Anonymous10/22/2012

    Do you sterilize your jars or process them in a boiling water bath once filled?

    Margery

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  7. If you're nervous about glass-topped canning jars but still want to can, there's a company called "Tattler" that makes reusable plastic lids for standard canning jars. They claim everything is BPA-free, and their web site has raves from people who have used the lids for 30 years. (I've used the lids for about 30 weeks so far, and generally am pleased, but I can't tell you yet how well my food will over-winter, at least not yet!).

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  8. 6 jars of crabapple jelly. The local orchardman had crabapples left over from a special request by another customer. Glad you are back posting on the blog. Look forward to more info about your book.

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  9. Ann Louise Santos10/22/2012

    I usually freeze jams that I make with local strawberries, wild raspberries and blackberries from our property, and blueberries from our bushes. Sometimes I buy figs in bulk for fig marmalade. They all taste wonderful during our long Vermont winters!

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  10. Wild raspberry (picked myself), peach (farmers market) and grape jam (some one had home grown juice from grapes at the farmers market) is what I have in my cupboard along with apple butter (farmers market). A friend gave me some interesting jams - beet/pear jam and beet/raspberry jam so those will be interesting to try out :) Like you I like having my pantry full for the winter.

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  11. Droolcup10/22/2012

    Greetings!
    I did some crabapple jelly for the first time from three pounds of windfall apples. Followed the recipe but it's more like candy because it went too far, though I used a thermometer. Next time, my own judgment!

    And did a double batch of quince marmalade on Friday…

    A couple of notes: First, rather than water bath, I use oven canning, putting the sealed jars on a wet dishtowel on a baking sheet, and giving them 25-30 minutes at 225-250°F. I only do pickles or jams, which are sufficiently acidic as to prevent botulism from developing.

    Second, things depend upon the fruit you use. I boiled up the peels and cores from the quince in two cups of water and put it through a mill to save the pectins for use in a berry jam when I get some berries, which have no natural pectin.

    Third, sometimes I boil down the fruit almost to the consistency I want, then add a bit of lemon juice and sugar to taste. That way it's not horrendously sweet, if I don't want it that way.

    As we will be moving north shortly (we hope) I intend to do more canning and the like. I noted that there are tons of wild berry canes along CA Route 3, and plan to gather and dry or freeze them next year, for use in various things. And rather than can tomatoes, I think I would dry them…

    Right now I'm drying persimmon slices in my oven. My improvements over former years are these: I'm using a Kyocera ceramic bladed mandoline set for 3 mm slices; then I put them on parchment directly on the oven racks, prop open the oven doors and give them 24 hours or so. I have a vintage gas stove with two ovens and mechanisms to prop open the doors; I also use oven thermometers to make sure the heat stays around 100-110°. Up north where the stoves are electric, I plan to string fruits and such up above the woodstove… as they did in the old days.

    I think that as we are trying to buy organic produce, in the main, preservation methods are essential. Since I cannot preserve lettuces, I may try drying kales and other dark greens for some of the same nutrients, and using them in soups.

    Great blog, Madame!

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    Replies
    1. I use water bath canning extensively, but have never heard of oven canning. What a great idea!!

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  12. We tried making our own jam this summer for the first time, using blackberries we picked ourselves. We are converts! We like our own jam so much better than anything we can buy in the store. Like Chevanne, I'm ready to try more. Thanks for posting a process that doesn't sound intimidating at all.

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  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  14. Hi Peter and welcome to the blog. I am not sure I understand your question... You mention screw top jars, wasting the FDA guidelines (!?), and botulism.

    1- I have expressed my choice of jars many times on the blog: I use these french canning jars for canning but also storing, transporting and freezing. The gasket is made of all natural rubber and with the design, there is no worry of any type of plastic (BPA or BPA free!)touching my food.

    2- I believe that there is also confusion about botulism. I do recommend sterilizing jars (as I do before filling). I do not do this for botulism concerns but to kill mold spores. Botulism is a worry with preserved alkaline vegetables such as green beans but with the acidity and the sugar level of jams, it is not a concern. My mom has been storing her jams that way for 40 years, and has never ever had a problem! That said, you are welcome to throw your jars in a water bath if you are more comfortable doing so. Everyone is free to do what they want ;)


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    1. Hi Bea & Peter,

      there are big differences between the process and guidelines for making preserves in the USA compared to the rest of the world e.g. I'm in Australia and we don't waterbath for jams, but in the USA you do. There were cases of botulism poisoning in the USA about 30+ years ago and that's when/why the guidelines there changed to be more "safe" than the rest of the world. Having said that the rest of world kept preserving the old way and we're still here! :) The style of jar used also varies around the world. Ultimately you are making food for your family so follow the guidelines that make you feel comfortable.

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    2. great input, thanks downtowndownshift!

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  15. Anonymous10/22/2012

    Hi Bea,

    I too canned 30 lbs of tomatoes this year in preparation for the winter. Your instructions are so easy and unintimidating. It was a huge success. I didn't do all crushed, some crushed, some chopped with skin on and some whole pealed. I'm starting to think we might run out and I should do more while I can still get my hands on them. I made a fig red wine jam at the same time a few weeks ago, its so good on a crusty bread with a bit of cheese. Cheers!

    -gk

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  16. We love to can pickles, tomatoes and jams but all is done for this season :0) Time to plan for next!!

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    Replies
    1. One of the great rewards of gardening is that you get to spend the winter planning next year's garden!!

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  17. I am hooked on making jams. Last year I did peach jam for the first time. A local orchard (I'm in Georgia) was selling their peaches for half price because they were ripening so fast and I got in on the deal. Wow was it delicious. This year I went strawberry picking and made jam from the fruit I picked. The kids LOVE it. My hubby won't allow me to share any as gifts because he doesn't want us to run out. I do use pectin and the Ball brand jars. I may try your method next year. I plan to expand to tomatoes too.

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  18. Rheanna10/22/2012

    Hi Bea I love your blog and have been following it since i stumbled across it a little over a year ago. It has been very inspirational and has helped me realise that my dreams of living a simple uncluttered lifestyle are not unrealistic at all. I was wondering if yould be able to do a post on your closet; what your pieces of clothing are and why youve chosen them. Keep being an inspiration to the rest of us!

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  19. loved this post. thanks for sharing. gonna try this next year!

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  20. LOVE canning, jamming and everything related! My most recent batch was that of grapefruit marmalade, which I made with surplus fruit from my veg box. I must say I'm green with envy though: us Brits can't so easily get tomatoes in bulk for canning!

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  21. We put up 24 quarts of applesauce last week and I used my friend's pressure canner to put up 36 pints of chicken yesterday. So nice to have your own foodstuffs on the pantry shelves.

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  22. I'm all about fruit butter - made half a dozen pints of cranapple butter (apples from our tree and cranberry juice - from the store, I'm afraid!); plus two Crock-pot batches of applesauce (that then went into the freezer)... and then an apple pie while I had the corer-peeler-slicer out.

    I didn't get as many tomatoes from my garden as I was expecting and I never made it to the farmer's market to get surplus, so I've only got 7 quarts of whole tomatoes - but that will be 7 great batch of chili this winter!

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  23. we went around to our neighbors and asked if we could pick some of the fruit off their trees - we ended up with pounds and pounds of plums, apples, and figs - all of which we canned. combined with the tomatoes we grew this summer, we won't have to buy canned tomatoes or jam for at least a year (during which time we'll be canning more). finally, after we eat through our weekly roasted chicken, i make stock from the carcass which gets stored in the freezer (mason jars freeze quite well). next year we'll be investing in a pressure canner and will be able to do even more (like salsas and stews, oh yum!)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Maggie! I hope this reaches you soon...not sure how these comment boards work. Could you elaborate on how you make your stock? I also have a weekly roasted chicken and am interested in making chicken stock. How do you do that with one set of chicken bones?

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  24. Marilyn10/27/2012

    You can also use inversion to secure the lids when canning jam. I've only ever tried that with screw-on metal lids. Just fill the jars, secure the sterilized lids, and flip them over until the lids pop. Voila!

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  25. I was inspired by Bea's post on canning tomatoes, so I slowly started by purchasing tomatoes at the local farmers market and canning. It worked perfectly, the directions were wonderful and the Le Parfait jars worked very well. I have recently moved on to refrigerator pickles and apple sauce. What is next? I think this year I will spread the Christmas cheer by canning mustard and making vanilla extract for friends and family. I am not very encouraged around the holidays for gift giving (I’ve never been good at it), but I am very excited to spread the joy of canning and offer a zero waste alternative for the holidays. I recently found some fun Pinterest recipes for homemade liquors and flavored vinaigrettes (from herbs in the garden) with recycled or repurposed jars (knobs from resale shops). The ideas are endless-it is amazing how zero waste can inspire! Thank you Bea for your amazing posts!

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  26. Allison11/03/2012

    Love your blog. I do all my jam as freezer jam - no water bath required. All packages of pectin have instructions inside. In my opinion it tastes better than cooked. This year I also did refrigerator pickles (instead of dill I use the fennel that grows in my yard), canned applesauce from our tree, and put up 30 quarts of tomato sauce and 15 jars of salsa from my tomatoes (plus some from the market.)

    Bea, you have also inspired me to continue to reduce the garbage in our house. Luckily, our east bay community recycles almost everything, so we've recently changed from the 50 gallon garbage bin to the 10 gallon bin for our family of four.

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  27. Hi Bea,

    Your post inspired me to try canning! I canned some sauce made from our garden's last tomatoes. Thanks for the inspiration.

    As a side note, could you please add back the archive list on the side bar? I used it frequently and miss it!

    Thanks again, can not wait for the book!

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  28. Annie3711/07/2012

    Hi Bea,
    When will your book come out?
    I have been missing your weekly blogs to help me keep up the motivation for a ZW life style.

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  29. To avoid the mold problem which is caused by putting jam into cold wet jars, wash your jars in hot water or run them through the dishwasher and place them upside down in a low oven until they are dry and quite warm and pot the jam immediately.

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  30. Anonymous11/19/2012

    thanks for sharing..

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  31. Bonjour
    J'ai découvert le blog par le biais d'un article sur le monde.fr... dommage qu'il ne soit pas également en français, ça m'aurait facilité la tâche ^^ car il a l'air d'être une mine d'or
    Merci.

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  32. Anonymous11/25/2012

    Salut Bea,
    J'ai trouve ton adresse grace au Monde...
    je vis en Georgie depuis quelques annees et suis aussi effare de la quantite de choses qui se jettent. Donc ton/votre initiative m'interesse au plus haut point. J'ai un peu aborde cette question sur mon blog mais il faut vraiment aller plus loin...
    le blog : americano.over-blog.net
    A plus (j'espere)
    Christian

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  33. I found this blog through the article in Le Monde, and I am so happy! This is brilliant, and I look forward to following you and get inspired. Keep up the good work, I think it's really important with people like you and your family who show their community a different way of life.
    Best regards,
    Pernille (étudiante de francais en Norvège (où on n'a pas des cedilles aux ordinateurs...))

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  34. Hi Bea!
    First, let me say that I just found your blog two weeks ago and it's so inspiring! Since then, we're beginning to change some of our bad habits at home and apply your ideas instead. One step at the time!
    Your canning is so pretty! And seems delicious! About this, I was looking at all the Le Parfait jars products on their website and my eye catch this phrase: "Bon à savoir : la rondelle en caoutchouc est à usage unique, elle doit être changée à chaque utilisation." So, what do you do with the ring after it's used? It seems weird to me that it can be use only one time! How many times can you use one ring for canning?
    Thanks a lot! Continue your great job! I'll do my part in my home, I promise!
    Rachel
    (Montréal, Canada)

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