Week 23: Jams/Preserves
5 lbs (or 10 cups) of Jams and/or Preserves
After this week, you should have 5 lbs (or 10 cups) stored. This is the program goal. This is the only time we address Jams and Preserves.
Preserves refer to fruits or vegetables that have been prepared and canned for long term storage. The preparation of fruit preserves traditionally involves the use of pectin as a gelling agent, although sugar or honey may be used as well. There are various types of fruit preserves, including store bought and home canned or bottled.
Jam contains both fruit juice and pieces of the fruit (or vegetable), however, some cookbooks define Jam as cooked and gelled fruit (or vegetable) purees. The fruit is heated with water and sugar to activate the pectin in the fruit. The mixture is then put into containers. Uncooked or minimally cooked (less than 5 minutes) jams, are called freezer jams, because they are stored frozen. These are very simple to prepare and are a favorite in my family.
The term jelly refers to a type of clear fruit spread consisting of firmed fruit (or vegetable) juice made with pectin. Jelly can be made from sweet, savory or hot ingredients. Jelly is made by a similar process to jam, with the additional step of filtering out the fruit pulp after the initial heating. A cloth “jelly bag” is traditionally used as a filter.
American-style marmalade is sweet, not bitter. In English-speak, “marmalade” almost always refers to a preserve derived from a citrus fruit, most commonly oranges. The recipe includes sliced or chopped fruit peel, which is simmered in fruit juice and water until soft; indeed marmalade is sometimes described as jam with fruit peel (although many companies now also manufacture peel-free marmalade). Such marmalade is most often consumed on toasted bread for breakfast.
Jam & Recipes for Home Storage:
There are many Jam and Preserve recipes out there, and although I have a couple favorites, I do not want this to turn into a “how to” module. I personally love the pectin recipes included with their product. For more information on recipes and methods, Ball, one of the most popular preserving companies, has a lot of great info on their site which is http://www.freshpreserving.com.
Since strawberries are so popular when it comes to jams and preserves, there is a fun link that has lots of recipes and tips on how to use strawberries, including pectin and no pectin jam recipes, jellies, strawberries in pies, etc. The site is called Pick Your Own and the link is http://www.pickyourown.org/strawberries.html.
This time of year is a great time to can/bottle your favorite fruit. Ours are peaches and pears. When canning time comes around, I pick the fruit I want to can and I make sure I can enough to last us for about 2 years. For our family, this is roughly 2 large boxes of peaches or pears and this will yield roughly 50 or so quart-sized bottles. Then I alternate between peaches and pears from year to year. So if I canned peaches this year, I’ll do pears next year, and by doing two years’ worth at a time, we don’t usually run out of either, and you only have to bottle one kind each year.
The Blue Book Guide to Preserving:
If you really want to get into canning and jarring your fresh fruit, I recommend looking at the “Blue Book Guide to Preserving” from Ball. It tells you in simple instructions how to can almost anything; complete with recipes for jelly, jellies, pickles, sauces, canning vegetables, meats, etc. If it can be canned, this book tells you how! With a little bit of research, you can find this fairly inexpensively. They are up to the 37th edition, so you know they have been keeping it updated. It can be found on Amazon, at Walmart, or directly from Ball at https://www.freshpreserving.com.