Megnut

Lazy jam is a relative term

On Wednesday I began the 3-day journey that is making a Christine Ferber jam and by Friday afternoon had four pints of "Strawberry with Pinot Noir and Spices". On Thursday I was able to bang out 7 1/2 pints of traditional strawberry jam like I make with my grandmother. I realized that this doesn't sound very lazy, but if you know how to do something, it's not hard. And somehow I equate not hard with lazy I guess. Regardless, it was lots of fun and I'm really looking forward to making many different jams and preserves this summer, "putting up" lots of the Greenmarket's bounty for fall and winter.

A couple notes: I didn't bother with Ferber's Green Apple Jelly for pectin (I can't be bothered to make jelly to make jam), I just used half a package of pectin (since Ferber's recipe called for approximately half the berries and sugar of a Certo pectin recipe). Jam set fine so I think if I make more of Ferber's jams (which I'd like to) I'll just sub store-bought pectin instead.

I tried the "fancy" jam (as Ollie calls the Pinot and Spice) with my English muffin this morning. You know what? I like my plain old Grandma Pete's traditional better.

I also made a rhubarb compote (1 cup chopped rhubarb, 1/2 cup sugar, juice of half an orange and its zest, I think...) that I've been putting on pancakes. So good!! And a little trick on the pancakes I pulled yesterday that no one seemed to notice: I sub'd 1 cup of AP flour for whole wheat pastry flour (inspired by an awesome banana muffin recipe I've been making that I'll tell you about soon) and the pancakes were still delicious, and I like to think a tiny bit healthier.

So yeah, I've been busy. And I didn't even tell you about everything I did in the garden today!

There are 7 responses

I almost always substitute 1/3-1/2 of my flour with whole wheat pastry flour. No one ever notices. Except that time I made whole wheat cinnamon rolls. I was firmly instructed by my husband to never pull that "stunt" again. :-)

And for most quick bread, you can also use vegetable oil instead of butter (1/3 C oil for every 1/2 C butter).

I don't eat that much jam (since I don't like sweets in the morning), so I've taken to putting fruit up in syrup the last couple of years (so I can use it in things like Clothilde's yogurt cake). I'm always deluged with rhubarb, one of the few things that grows in Montana. Last spring I did a big batch of rhubarb with ginger and orange zest (and I think I juiced the oranges in as well) I didn't cook it all the way down to jam, but left it like more of a compote or sauce. It's really good over ice cream, and makes a great addition to things like the yogurt cake. I gave away a bunch for Christmas, but I've actually eaten most of the rest. Which is good, since the rhubarb is about to go to seed out back ...

I think I was too busy feeding Minna to notice... ;)

I'd been looking for an inspirational jam-and-jelly book and so ordered Ferber's from Amazon after you mentioned it. I just finished going through the book and thought--given a dearth of both time and green apples--that I'd follow your example when it comes to pectin. However, I don't normally use pectin in my jam-and-jelly efforts so I wonder, is it liquid pectin you use? Ferber sometimes uses more than a cup of apple jelly in a batch, does the Certo provide equivalent bulk as well as setting power?

Yes, I use Certo liquid pectin. I've only done it once, and I basically looked at the amount of sugar and fruit, which was approximately half of a Certo recipe, and so halved the amount of pectin called for. Unscientific for sure, but jam set. I'm sure with more experimentation you could get it to be pretty accurate.

I'm curious, if you don't usually use pectin, what do you do? Just jam fruit with its own high pectin? I tried one of her recipes that didn't call for additional green apple jelly (Balsamic and Strawberry, I believe) and though I boiled and everything according to her direction, my jam didn't set properly. Maybe the liquid pectin is a crutch but I like the security! :)

One year I made pectin with apples (from the directions in an old Sunset book on canning) and used that, but mostly the fruit I use has enough--plums, apricots, grapes, currants, gooseberries--or I'm satisfied with a syrupy concoction (DIP the toast!).

I made her Gariguette Strawberry (p. 24) last night with plain garden strawberries and it has set up to a tasty soft jelly. I was religious about taking it to 121 degrees both before and after adding the fruit.

When I first started making preserves, I relied on the old-fashioned tests: the drip, the freezer, and the 'quilted appearance' of the bubbling liquid. My results were OK most of the time. When I shifted my focus to jelly, I discovered the magic 120 degree 'gel point'. Last year I used it to override my best judgement and had buy Christmas presents for everyone because the textures were so bizarre: firm and quivering, rubbery, pasty, perfectly fluid...

I won't abandon my thermometer yet, but I won't be a slave to it this year either. It turns out that despite my anxiety--Is it dripping just right? or not?--my judgement was good enough.

In addition to trying "fancy" jam (pepper! ginger! vanilla!) the innovation this year is the canning method. I've always used a boiling water bath for 10-15 minutes. Last night I tried her "fill hot jars full, seal, and invert til cool" method. Today, the seals seem tight but I wonder if they're as durable as the other way.

I've never bothered with the hot water bath, as my grandmother taught me how to make jam and she's always done the inversion. I'd say as long as you're doing sugary things, you're good. I'd be a lot more careful canning beans and less acidic items, due to botulism risk, and go with water baths for those.

Previous: Next: