Kickin' Out the Jam(s)

@Raelove (16813)
Saco, Maine
August 16, 2016 6:16am CST
Music lovers might remember a song released during the 1960's by a band called MC5. I remember buying the album, because, well, it was the cool thing to do at the time. I kicked out my own jam the other night, though, that had nothing to do with the song but rather with a quart of strawberries that I got at the Asian market. The last time I made homemade strawberry jam, I hadn't been all that happy with the results. I let it cook too long, and while the jam didn't actually burn, the sugars began to caramelize, and the final product turned out much darker than I'd hoped. Years ago when I made jams and jellies, I always used powdered pectin, which is the substance in fruit that causes the liquids to thicken. All fruits and some vegetables naturally contain pectin. But due to hybridization, many varieties no longer contain as much as the old-fashioned ones did. It's still possible to make jam and jelly from them, but it just takes a little longer as the sugar does the thickening work. I didn't have any pectin on hand, so I just combined the sliced berries, water and sugar in a pot and started stirring. I brought it to a boil, then turned the heat downt to medium, and kept cooking and stirring until the mixture coated a metal spoon and two drops of the liquid fell off separately. I skimmed the pink foam off the top and poured the jam into three small jelly jars. I had some for the first time this morning, and it is absolutely delicious. I find store-bought jams to be too thick, sticky and sweet. This is light, slightly runnier, and just sweet enough. The ratio of fruit/sugar/water is roughly 3 cups berries, 2 cups sugar, and about 1 cup of water. The cooking time is longer, as there is no added pectin to instantly thicken the mixture, so you have to work with the heat and the rate of evaporation to get it to just the right consistency to "gel." You can use a candy thermometer to know when the syrup is the right temperature, but I prefer to use the old tried-and-true metal spoon method. Another little trick I use is to keep an ice cube in a small bowl nearby, and drop a bit of the syrup every few minutes on it. If it instantly thickens, then the jam is ready. This time, the jam turned out perfectly, is a nice bright red, and not too thick and sticky. I had some this morning on toast with peanut butter, and I've kept a small amount aside to add to some plain yogurt later. Making jam isn't complicated, but it does take a bit of time and patience. The end result, though, makes it so worthwhile. (Public Domain Image)
11 people like this
9 responses
@LadyDuck (157830)
• Switzerland
16 Aug 16
You are right, with ybridization, many fruits no longer contain enough pectine. I buy powered pectine to prepare jams and jellies. I do not like those sold in store, they are too sweet.
2 people like this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
16 Aug 16
I'm glad I learned to make it without pectin. I love the idea of my jams and jellies containing only fruit, water and sugar. Jelly's a bit trickier, and the thermometer comes in handy then. But I can still use the ice cube method there, too.
2 people like this
@LadyDuck (157830)
• Switzerland
16 Aug 16
@Raelove I only buy natural pectin from apples, I do not want artificial things in my food. The cold plate method works too to test the jams and jellies.
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
16 Aug 16
@LadyDuck Yes, but I never remember to put a plate in the fridge before doing it, so the ice cube thing works, too. No matter how you make them, it's just fun to do.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (43084)
• Gainesville, Florida
16 Aug 16
I love homemade jams and jellies! My boss' mother makes some and brings case loads of it to our office every year at Christmas. She makes so many wonderful varieties, and they taste absolutely amazing! It's funny when the delivery of jams and jellies arrives at our office, you would think all of us were kids in a candy store digging into the boxes to find our favorite flavors!
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
16 Aug 16
I plan on making more to give as gifts this year. There's nothing like homemade!
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (43084)
• Gainesville, Florida
16 Aug 16
@Raelove There's a lady at our local farmers market who sets up a booth with all her homemade jellies and jams. It seems like she sells out of her product every weekend, so it goes to show just how popular they are, and how much people appreciate good quality jams and jellies!
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
16 Aug 16
@moffittjc My dream years ago was to do that...make jams, jellies, breads, muffins, etc., and sell them at a little stand. Now, I no longer have the energy to do much of it, so I only make it for myself and as occasional gifts.
1 person likes this
@just4him (117368)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
17 Aug 16
That's great! My mother made strawberry jam in the later years of her life and was delicious. I'm glad you got it to the right consistency without pectin.
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
17 Aug 16
Thanks. I love doing it without the pectin, as I find that pectin does change the flavor a bit. This is just fruit, sugar and water, so there is no aftertaste AND no preservatives.
1 person likes this
@just4him (117368)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
21 Aug 16
@Raelove That's awesome!
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
21 Aug 16
@just4him Thanks...best there is.
• United States
16 Aug 16
yepperz, they're ruinin' many 'f our fruits/veggies/grains through such :( i adore homemade jams'n so happy that 'chers turned out well this time.
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
17 Aug 16
I took my time with it, and never left its side. I think that had a lot to do with it.
1 person likes this
• United States
17 Aug 16
@Raelove yes ma'am, one's gotta keep a watchful eye when doin' such. i think i might jest make me some here this week sometime? if'n i'm too lazy to make some english muffins, i'll pour 't o'er some pancakes, lol.
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
17 Aug 16
@crazyhorseladycx That sounds good, too.
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (123432)
• Bunbury, Australia
18 Aug 16
That sounds so nice. We used to make a lot of apricot and plum jam on the farm but there were never enough strawberries to make jam from them.
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
18 Aug 16
I plan on trying to make a few different kinds to give as gifts this year...
@Corbin5 (106633)
• United States
16 Aug 16
I bet your homemade jam puts store-bought jam to shame! I have never made jam, but enjoy any that a person wants to share with me.
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
16 Aug 16
It's not hard to do, just a bit time-consuming. All you need is some type of fruit, sugar and water, and that's it. And yes, it does taste a whole lot better than the stuff at the store!
1 person likes this
@marlina (73881)
• Canada
16 Aug 16
My Mom used to make tons of strawberry jam jars for the colder months. It was so delicious, nothing compared to the store bought jam.
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
16 Aug 16
And the store-bought jams contain other things that I don't want or need. It's a lot of fun to make, so I will be making more to give as gifts this Christmas, too.
@JustBhem (37513)
• Davao, Philippines
16 Aug 16
I remember my mom makin' a mango jam. It was sweet.
1 person likes this
• United States
16 Aug 16
I never tried making my own jam but I bet once you make your own buying store bought isn't very appealing anymore