Archive for May, 2012
With summer right around the corner, it’s time to stir up something fresh in the kitchen. Let’s start with a something we can all appreciate: jam. Jam is a truly wonderful thing. It can be sweet, savory, tart, you name it. Completely delicious, jam is something that we wouldn’t like to live without. And since it’s usually made from fruit, we would like to think that it’s healthy, right? After all, everyone knows that fruit is healthy. Why not jam?
Unfortunately, this is not entirely true. Most of the jam on the market today is loaded with high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, which to many is known to be quite unhealthy. Of course, there are many alternatives to eating ‘junk’ jams. There are organic, sugar sweetened jams that are quite nice. But they are expensive for everyday consumption, upwards of four dollars for one jar. Surely there are other options!
Good news: jam is able to be made at home! Before people became so reliant on the store for all of their condiments, jam was made at home. Most likely, your grandmother made her own. So what’s to stop you from doing the same?
One thing to consider, though, is how jam is usually made. Cut or mash, stir, add, jar and cook. Not only can cooked jam be a messy hassle, it kills many, if not all, of the live beneficial enzymes in the fruit. So how d we avoid destroying the best part of the fruit?
Quite simple, really. You make No-Cook jam.
Also known as freezer jam, No-Cook jam is a welcome, healthy change from the ordinary store jams you’re used to. Despite what you may have heard, no cook jam is not difficult to make, and does not require a freezer to set. Freezing is a method of preserving the jam for future use without canning or cooking. And unlike cooked jam, No-Cook jam can be used in smoothies and better yet, on ice cream. Freezer jam is compatible with any cooked jam recipe as well.
So what’s in it? No-Cook jam generally calls for a few standard main ingredients (they vary from one recipe to another): fresh or pre-frozen fruit, sweeteners (sugar, honey, etc.), and pectin.
~ Some notes on Pectin~
- Pectin is a natural substance found in some fruits that makes the jam thicken, a must-have if making no cook jam. Pectin is released by cooking the fruits- which obviously doesn’t happen with no cook jams. Thus to achieve the desired thickness characteristic of jam, pectin must be used, or you will end up with runny jam. As said above, certain fruits have naturally occurring pectin levels high enough to not use packaged pectin at all, regardless of not cooking them. They will gel if you add sugar or an acid to them, with no additional pectin required. Some fruits that have a higher amount of naturally occurring pectin, and are self-gelling, are as follows: (Chart courtesy of www.pickyourown.org )
Group I: If not overripe has enough natural pectin and acid for gel formation with only added sugar.
Group II: Low in natural acid or pectin, and may need the addition of either acid or pectin.
Group III: Always needs added acid, pectin, or both.
Group I: Apples, sour Blackberries, sour Crabapples, Cranberries, Currants, Gooseberries, Grapes (Eastern Concord), Lemons, Loganberries, Plums, (not Italian), Quinces, Raspberries, Citrus skins (oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons, limes, etc.-the pectin in high in the skin but low in the fruit.)
Group II: Apples, ripe Blackberries, ripe Blackberries, ripe Cherries sour Chokecherries, Elderberries, Grapefruit, Grape Juice (Eastern Concord),Grapes (California), Loquats, Oranges.
Group III: Apricots, Blueberries, Cherries, sweet Figs, Grapes (Western Concord), Guavas, Nectarines, Peaches, Pears, Plums (Italian), Pomegranates, Strawberries.
(Available fruits will vary by your location.)
Please note: Guavas and most other tropical fruits such as those found here in Hawai`i must be cooked for jam because of their high acid content. Raw Guavas and Lilikoi will not allow the pectin to coagulate, leaving a runny mess instead of jam.
The best match for fresh jam is dry, no-sugar pectin packages or the low methoxyl pectin type. The first is standard commercial pectin that allows you to make your jam with no sugar, using Xylitol, Stevia, or as the name implies, no sugar. This is a very common variety and can be found at your local supermarket. The second type is an all natural sugar derived pectin that uses calcium to jell the jam. It is also a sugar/no sugar pectin. It is purchasable online only. Most regular pectin types are for cooked jams ONLY. Unless the package specifically says that it can work with uncooked freezer type jams (sometimes called Quick and Easy recipes. For a healthier version, sans the corn syrup), DO NOT use for this purpose. To avoid any mistakes, please buy one of the pectin types described above.
What utensils will I need to make it?
A bowl, large strainer for washing the fruit; potato masher or fork, large spoon, a
ladle, occasionally a saucepan, and canning jars. Regardless of cooking, freezing or
neither, canning jars are the most convenient method of storing your jam.
How do you make this jam?
Here are a few fresh jam recipes for you to try! Instructions are given with the recipes. All recipes property of their respective websites (Credits given after recipe, with working links.)
- No Cook Strawberry Jam Recipe
*Makes 5-8 oz. Jars
1 pkg. Fruit Pectin 1 ½ cups cane sugar
4 cups fresh strawberries
Directions: Wash and hull strawberries, the crush gently with a potato masher in a 9×13 baking dish.
In a dry, large mixing bowl, stir together packet of pectin and sugar until well blended. Stir in crushed strawberries. Stir for 3 minutes more. Ladle or spoon into jars, leaving ½ – ¾ inches of headspace. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes or until thickened. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks or freeze for up to 1 year.
(Recipe Source: sparkpeople.com, Homemade No-cook Strawberry Freezer Jam, viewable @ http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=1125792 .)
- No cook Strawberry Pineapple Jam
2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries, quartered
2 cups fresh diced pineapple (about half a pineapple)
1 ½ cups cane sugar (adjust to taste)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 package jam pectin
- In a bowl, with a potato masher, slightly mash the fruit. Add the sugar and lemon juice. Stir to blend and let stand for 15 minutes.
- Add the pectin and stir for 3 minutes. Let stand for five minutes. Pack in jars. After 30 minutes, serve or store in refrigerator or freezer.
- Will keep for 3 weeks in the refrigerator or 1 year in the freezer.
(Recipe source: Ricardo Cuisine viewable @ www.ricardocuisine.com/recette-detaillee.php?id=4127.
Note: scroll to bottom left of page for English button.)
- Best No-Cook Raspberry Jam
4 cups crushed fresh or frozen raspberries (do not puree)
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 package no-cook jam pectin
Directions: Place prepared fruit in a large mixing bowl. Gently stir in sugar and allow to stand for 15 minutes. Slowly sprinkle gelling powder (pectin) a little at a time onto the fruit mixture while stirring for 3 minutes. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Gently stir again for one minute. Pour jam into jars, leaving one inch head space. Jam is ready to eat! No standing time required. Store in refrigerator for up to 6 weeks, or store in freezer for up to one year. Yield is approx. 4 ½ cups.
Note: Works well with blackberries, too!
(Recipe source: Raspberry depot article, Favourite Raspberry Freezer Jam Recipe, Best No Cook Raspberry Jam viewable @ www.raspberry-depot.com/raspberry-freezer-jam-recipe-favourite.html.)
- No Cook Blueberry Jam
4 pints of blueberries (Or substitute frozen ones)
2/3 cup of organic cane sugar
The zest of one lemon and its juice
1 package of pectin
Directions: Mash berries well. Add the zest and juice of one lemon, then add the organic cane sugar. Stir in well, then add pectin, one tablespoon at a time. Stir until all pectin is thoroughly distributed throughout the blueberry mixture. Keep stirring for 3-4 minutes and then pour into jars. Let sit for 30 minutes until the jam is set. Store in the fridge for 4-6 weeks or 1 year in the freezer.
(Recipe source: Dianne’s Dishes. Article: No cook Blueberry Jam. Viewable @ www.diannesdishes.com/2009/07/no-cook-blueberry-jam.html.)
Until next time,
A hui hou!