Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jam On

Nothing tastes as delicious as home-made jam. No, I mean it. You won’t touch Smuckers and their thick jellied jams that taste like ordinary. Make a batch of jam at home from in-season strawberries with nothing but sugar and a little lemon juice added to brighten your mornings.
I like my jam to be a bit runny, unlike the store bought jams, so I skip the pectin altogether if the fruit is tart or add ½ the recommended amount. Pectin “gels” the jam and jellies and is usually extracted from apples. Strawberries are a low pectin fruit, so additional pectin is a good insurance that the jam will gel.

Jam recipes are all about ratios. To make strawberry jam, wash, de-stem and crush the fruit with potato masher or pulse it briefly in the food processor, leaving chunks of fruit intact. For every cup of crushed fruit, add 1.5 cups of sugar. For every 8 cups of crushed fruit, add 1 packet of pectin (1.75 oz). This will yield a runny jam. For every 4 cups of crushed fruit, add ½ cup of fresh lemon juice. So a recipe will look something like this.

Yummy Strawberry Jam
8 cups crushed strawberries
12 cups sugar (yes, that much)
1 cup fresh lemon juice – this adds a brightness to the jam
1 package pectin

In a heavy bottom sauce-pan, combine fruit, lemon juice and pectin and bring to a rolling boil. What is a rolling boil? It means that the mixture won’t stop bubbling even after you stir it. Add the sugar, stir to dissolve and bring again to a rolling boil and boil for a minute. Fill into jars. And enjoy on toast or over ice creams.

See? It’s that simple. Of course if you are making that much jam, you might want to “preserve” it so that you can enjoy it all year. You can either refrigerate it, but I just can it. It sounds a bit complicated, but it isn’t. Its super simple and the jams stay good for 2-3 years at least as long as the jars are stored in a cool dark place (like the back of a kitchen pantry). Sugar is a natural preservative, so you can seal the jam jars with hot wax or process them in a boiling water bath (which is what I do).

Prior to making jam, I run the jars (you can buy jars and bands and lids at stores like Walmart. They usually run about $8 or $9/dozen.) through a sterilize cycle in my dishwasher or you can just wash them in hot soapy water. I wash the bands and the lids with hot water and soap as well. I use 1 pint jars because they fit nicely in my water bath. Ladle hot jam in the jars, leaving a ¼ inch head space. Place lids on jars and screw bands lightly, NOT tightly. This will enable you to ensure that the lids are sealed because of vacuum, not because of the bands.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place jars in the boiling water, adding more boiling water if necessary so that there is at least an inch of water above the tops of jars. Cover and boil for 10 minutes. Remove jars. The jars will start “popping” as the air inside them cools and creates a vacuum seal. Leave to cool over night. By next morning, the jars must have small dent in the center and should not “pop” when you press the center of their lids. If some jars do pop, refrigerate and consume within 1-2 months – they haven’t been sealed properly. Screw the bands rightly and store the jars in a cool dry place and enjoy. These jars make awesome hostess gifts.

Next time instead of making plain strawberry (or mixed berry) jam, I am going to try to make strawberry + champagne jam. Maybe later in the season when apricots and peaches are aplenty, I will make apricots/peach + grand marnier marmalade.
Here is a picture of the strawberry jam I made this season.


Doli said...

Yummy! the jam looks good.. :)

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

ha! and one of those bottles is now half-empty thanks to, yours truly

yum yum indeed!!

rayshma said...


see... that is part of the reason i don't make things at home. they ALWAYS inevitably taste better than store versions. and then i get stuck with having to make them all the time! :D
u know, i pass on ur recipes to my cousin's wife... (of course, i tell her i get them from you!) and SHE makes yum stuff and i get it home! :D am waiting for her to try the ice cream cake! :D

this is what i have to do... till i shift nearer to where u are! :D

Anonymous said...

Nice! I made blueberry jam a long time back and there was no need to preserve. My monsters ensured everything was finished within a month :)

Shobana said...

Sounds simple and am sure it tasted heavenly.

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Not a jam person at all, except for the ever delicious peanut-butter with grape jelly, but wow!!- your strawberry jam looks smackalicious!

Munchkin said...

What a co-incidence! I made raspberry jam two weeks back, no pectin for me too, simple sugar, fruit and a dash of lime juice.

My next attempt was to be apple jam, but now your post makes strawberry another yummy option :)

Kodi's Mom said...

yum! i tasted the most heavenly strawberries y'day at the farmer's mkt, now I think I'll get a flat of it nxt wk & jam w it :)
I won't be preserving it tho..can i skip the pectin?

Vinita said...

wow you are so talented.

maidinmalaysia said...

one for me
one for amma
one for mil
one for sil
one for grandma
one for my fav. neighbour
one for my bff
one for...
i've already decided what to do with the jamjars that you are gonna mail me:-)

Subhashree said...

Wow. You are a jam Goddess!

Preethi said...

send me some pleasee!!! reminds me of Monica and Joey of the friends fame!! :)

Mama - Mia said...

wow!! i am not a jam person at all! but you make it sound all yummy and fun to do kinda thing, this making jam business!

but nopes! i shall buy my jam!



choxbox said...

whoa. looks and sounds yummilicious. dottie you rock!

DotThoughts said...

Doli: thanks muchly:)

gnd: BG ate a lot of jam and ice cream :)

raysh: I think you have a good production model here :) Come see me when you are in these parts.

asaaan: LOL. yumm.

shobana: very simple. try it!

m4: groan. you like grape jelly? nahiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

munchkin: do a post, do a post!! I sooo want to try apple jelly with store bought cider. let's do it together!

kodi's mom: sure, skip the pectin. although, your jam will be super-runny if you have strawberries. s.berries are a low pectin fruit. pectin is not a preservative, its a jelling agent and is extracted from apples.

vinita: dude, I just put some fruit and sugar in a pot and boiled. can't go wring with that ;-)

mim: ROTFL. sending you 7 jars.

subha: umm, wait before you taste it na.

preethi:monica and joey????? I am so not into Friends :(

mama mia: nooooo. I am sending you a jar and hope to convert you :)

choxie: aww thanks!

Mom Gone Mad said...

Dottie, your culinary prowess is killin' me gurrl!

But - Me too me too!!

Even though MIL is awesome at handing out fruit preserves -aw i'm just greedy:-)

Munchkin said...

Done! Let me zero in on a recipe.Or do you have anything in mind?


It turned out to be ridiculously good. Only thing is ,it has dairy products in it ,could be a good addition to your recipe collection

Mystic Margarita said...

The jam looks yummy, Dottie! Is there no end to your talent? *skulks away feeling two feet tall*

Anonymous said...

oh the jam looks yummy just last week I made mine with fresh mangoes....

Ekta said...

wow...kya talent hai :)
writing, directing, cooking, baking, bio-informating....most importantly wifey-ing and there something you do not do?

DotThoughts said...

MGM: hey I don't blame you :) But culinary prowess? This is as hard as boiling water

Munchkin: Well, I had this one in mind
but try some exotic flavors instead of cinnamon. Ginger? Other ideas? The Ball website also ahs a recipe for rhubarb chadonnay jam.
Must try that too. That cookie recipe is fab. Have you scaled it?

Mystic: Dude, its really easy. trust me.

Monika: Nice!!!!!! My MIL makes mango jam. Which variety of mangoes?

Ekta: Plenty, plenty. I can't sew, embroider, crochet. No good at reading manuals either :)

Anonymous said...

I tried your recipe - used only 4 cups of strawberry as I was trying Jam making for the first time. Looks like I should have made 8 cups after all!!! It was so good....I cannot believe that I am having homemade jam every morning that too made by me :) Planning to make more and treat everyone I know with a bottle.

Thank you very much for the recipe and the inspiration...

Kodi's Mom said...

just wanted to let you know, Dot! I made s.jam today for the first time in my life :) and it turned out great (a bit too sugary for me, but everyone else likes it) didn't use pectin, just let it boil a bit longer and it came up to a great consistency.
thanks for the inspiration and the tips, pal!

DotThoughts said...

Nithu and Kodi's mom:
I am so, so, so happy you decided to give this a try. I hope you have been converted. And you see how easy it is na :) Yipee!