October 21, 2012

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). 


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?