Jam conjures images of a shiny, orange spread with citrus and peel pieces in a semi-firm syrup on a piece of toast. Jam, one of several types of sweet spreads, is a soft fruit jelly that usually contains small pieces or slices of citrus peel that are evenly suspended in the transparent jelly. However, there are recipes with other fruits and even tomatoes as the main ingredient. Sometimes a combination of fruits is used, such as grapefruits, oranges, and lemons for citrus jam, or pears and pineapples for a pear and honey jam.
Traditional jam is made using the long cooking method. Fruits, additional acid if needed, and sugar are combined in the right proportions to form a gel when cooked over high heat to 8 ° F above the boiling point of water (220 ° F at sea level). This usually takes 20 to 30 minutes.
In the case of recipes with commercially available pectin products, the added pectin shortens the cooking time. Except for the preparation of the bowl, it is similar to making jam.
Start by cutting the citrus peel into thin strips. A quick way to do this is to press the unpeeled citrus fruit firmly against a “zester” to create splinters. Another method is to place the peel on a flat surface and use a sharp knife to lift the peel off the white membrane, then cut it into thin slices. Make sure to include some of the white membrane that is just under the skin as this is where most of the pectin is. Then the bowl is covered with cold water and cooked until soft. If commercial pectin is used to make the jam, the recipe may or may not include some of the white membrane.
Be careful when cooking the jam. If the product is overcooked, the consistency of long-cooked jam becomes too thick and becomes like candy. It can get too thick to spread. Boiling jams with commercial pectin reduces the pectin’s ability to gel.
After preparation, the jam must be filled into hot glasses and processed in a boiling water bath or atmospheric steam cooker. When using sterilized jars, the process time is 5 minutes; If the jars are clean but not sterilized, the process time is 10 minutes. After processing, let the jars sit in the jar for 5 minutes before removing them to a fabric-covered surface. (Remove the lid from the boiler with boiling water; leave the lid on an atmospheric steam boiler.)
The following two recipes show both the long cooking method and the use of commercial pectin. Note that both need thin strips of citrus peel cut and tenderized before cooking the jam.
This recipe makes 3 to 4 half pint glasses.
- 3/4 cup grapefruit peel (from 1/2 grapefruit)
- 3/4 cup orange peel (1 orange)
- 1/3 cup lemon peel (1 lemon)
- 1 liter of cold water
- Pulp of 1 grapefruit
- Pulp of 4 medium-sized oranges
- 2 cups of boiling water
- 3 cups of sugar
To prepare fruit:
Wash and peel the fruit. Cut the peel into thin strips in a saucepan. Add cold water and simmer covered until soft (approx. 30 minutes). Drain.
Next, remove the seeds and skin from the peeled fruits. Cut the fruit into small pieces.
Sterilize preserving jars. Prepare the lids according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Put the peel and fruits in a saucepan, add boiling water and sugar. Quickly boil to 8 degrees F above the boiling point of water (about 20 minutes), stirring frequently. Take off the stove; overfly. Pour hot jam into hot glasses, leaving 1/4 inch space. Wipe the edges of the glass and adjust the lids. Process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath or an atmospheric steamer. (10 minutes at altitudes above 1,000 feet to 6,000 feet; 15 minutes above 6,000 feet)
Cranberry jam (with pectin powder)
- 2 oranges
- 1 lemon
- 3 cups of water
- 1 pound cranberries (about 4 cups)
- 1 box of powdered pectin (3.75 ounces) or 3/4 cup of generic brand name pectin
- 7 cups of sugar
This makes about 10 or 11 half pint glasses.
Sterilize mason jars and prepare two-piece mason lids according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
To prepare fruit:
Peel oranges and lemon; remove half of the white part of the rind. Finely chop or grind the remaining pods. Put in a large saucepan. Add water, bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Chop the peeled oranges and lemon. Sort and wash fully ripe cranberries. Add the fruit to the rind, cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes longer.
Measure out 6 cups of the prepared fruit and place in a large kettle. If necessary, add water to make 6 cups. Add powdered pectin and stir well. (If desired, add 1/2 teaspoon of butter to reduce frothing.) Heat over high heat and, stirring constantly, bring to a boil quickly with bubbles all over the surface. Add sugar, keep stirring and reheat until completely cooked. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Take off the stove; Skim off the foam. Pour hot jam into hot glasses, leaving 1/4 inch space. Wipe the edges of the glass and adjust the lids. Process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath or an atmospheric steamer. (10 minutes at altitudes over 1,000 feet to 6,000 feet and 15 minutes over 6,000 feet.)
Source: National Center for Food Preservation at Home.
If you have any questions about food preservation, a home economics expert is available Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. by calling 717-394-6851 or writing to Penn State Extension, Lancaster County, 1383 Arcadia Road, Room 140, Lancaster, PA. Questions answered 17601.
The Well Preserved news column is produced by Penn State Extension.