jam days

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How did it start?

Last January on a Sunday morning before breakfast I looked for some jam. All I found was a single small jar filled w/ strawberry jam. My better half & I had run out of homemade jam – so early in the year.

What to do?

For the next weeks & months I bought jam in my trusted food store & I made plans for jam production later in the year. May arrived & I was tempted to buy preserving sugar. I decided to work w/ the 2:1 version meaning 1000 g fruit & 500 g preserving sugar. (Last year I had worked w/ the 1:1 version as well as w/ the 2:1 version of preserving sugar.)

Against the background of my empty jam pantry I got too enthusiastic & crammed my supermarket trolley w/ 6 packages of preserving sugar à 500 g. At home I asked myself what to do w/ such a lot of preserving sugar.

 

 

I always deal w/ homemade jam. I like it & sometimes I like to experiment w/ new fruit, new combinations of fruit, new add-ons like herbs or spices, liqueurs, vegetables ….

This time I preferred to produce straightforward jam, enough for the next 12 months i. e. until next jam season.

 

For the record:
My main jam season is spring to summer when all the red fruit like strawberries, raspberries … & yellow fruit like apricots, peaches … are fresh on the market. Sometimes I make some jam in autumn or winter, but that’s only out of a sudden inspiration for some experimental special jam.

 

So: what jam did I cook?

  • strawberries w/ raspberries
  • apricots w/ vanilla
  • white & yellow peaches, apricots, yellow nectarines w/ vanilla.

The last idea is a new combination: I call it simply summer jam. It’s a rather delicate flavor, fresh & light going fine w/ the 2:1 preserving sugar approach.

 

In addition: I thought this time of chunky jam. I didn’t mash any fruit, however, I only cut it into pieces i. e. no chopping, no mincing. Most of the fruit disintegrated during cooking.

 

 

My 1st batch resulted in 12 jam jars for 250 g each filled w/ a mess out of strawberries (clean, trimmed, hulled & halved) mixed w/ raspberries (pits in). I didn’t add any water, only preserving sugar.

Next process … Before starting I checked my empty jam jars & started w/ an assorted mix of empty jam jars (some for 250 g, some for 340 g, some for 400 g). I always store empty jam jars somewhere in my pantry. During the last months when there was no longer any homemade jam I could stock up on very new jam jars from buying jam in my trusted food store.

 

Seriously:
Before starting any jam cooking make sure that you’ve enough jam jars!
(Best are still jam jars w/ twist-off cap!)

 

Then I produced jam of apricots w/ vanilla. The apricots were cleaned, trimmed, pitted & quartered. I added 250 ml water & a slit vanilla bean to the fruit & the preserving sugar.

My summer jam:
I mixed some apricots, yellow peaches (peeled), white peaches (peeled) & nectarines (roughly peeled), all cut into pieces. Together w/ the preserving sugar I also had some water (250 ml).

 

 

I put the mess for each batch in a big pot & brought it to a boil. The jam has to be cooked for some minutes – the tip on the package of my preserving sugar recommended at least 3 min bubbly cooking of the mess. Then the mess was filled into the waiting (cleaned) jam jars, the twist-off cap at once on & the jam jar ended upside down until all the mess was at room temperature.

 

For the record:
You may do a test if the jam will get thick before filling the jam jars, however, I never had any trouble. Unless you don’t stick to the specification. It’s 500 g preserving sugar for 1000 g fruit or 800 ml fruit juice. Don’t use more fruit. Weigh the fruit exactly. Don’t fiddle about.
(… it’s always 1000 g – maybe 800 g fruit & 200 ml water!)

 

I store my jam jars in my pantry (cool, dark). There’s no need to store the jam jars in the fridge – until you open a jam jar.

 

For the record:
Each batch I made were 1000 g preserving sugar & 2000 g fruit resp. fruit & water. There is no problem to double the amounts i. e. working w/ 2 packages of preserving sugar.

 

 

… at the end: is it worth the trouble?

Approaching from the financial side I think homemade jam will cost about the same as a good quality store-bought jam. If you happen to have a garden supplying you w/ fruit it’s another calculation.

If you really like to know what’s in your jam you may only be sure – 100% – if you cook your very own jam.

If you like to stay real w/ flavors it’s the same. A homemade jam will never taste like a store-bought jam.

(I go for the flavor issue!)

 

Enjoy!

 

jam days
Servings: 36 jam jars à 250 g
ingredients
for the strawberry-raspberry jam:
  • 1800 g strawberries (cleaned, trimmed, hulled, halved)
  • 200 g raspberries (cleaned, with pits)
  • 1000 g preserving sugar (2:1)
for the apricot-vanilla jam:
  • 1750 g apricots (cleaned, trimmed, pitted, roughly chopped)
  • 250 ml water
  • 1 vanilla bean (cut lenghtwise)
  • 1000 g preserving sugar (2:1)
for the summer jam:
  • 1750 g mixed fruit (apricots, white & yellow peaches, yellow nectarines - all cleaned, trimmed, pitted & roughly chopped / peaches & nectarines maybe peeled)
  • 250 ml water
  • 1 vanilla bean (cut lengthwise)
  • 1000 g preserving sugar (2:1)
equipment:
  • 36 jam jars w/ twist-off cap (250 g) OR
  • 21 jam jars w/ twist-off cap (450 g) OR
  • any mix of jam jars available ...
  • a large pot
how to...
for each jam:
  • Prepare the fruit.
  • Combine fruit & water (if planned).
  • Add preserving sugar & mix thoroughly.
  • Add vanilla bean (if planned).
  • Let the mess chill for about 1-2 h.
  • Clean the jam jars.
  • Bring the mess to a boil & cook for 3-5 min (depending on the recommendation on the package of your preserving sugar).
  • Discard the vanilla bean (if swimming in the mess).
  • Fill the jam into the jam jars, close the twist-off cap & put upside down.
  • Clean all jam jars (from splilled jam) as soon as the jam is at room temperature & store them in a dark & cool place.
Notes
Prep Time:
for strawberry jam: about 30 min
for apricot jam: about 45 min
for summer jam: about 60 min
Cook Time:
Follow the recommendation of the preserving sugar. It's about 3-5 min generally.
Storing:
You may store the jam for at least 18 months in your pantry. You need to store the jam in your fridge after having opened a jam jar.

 

(information on equipment)

 

 

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