Have you ever wondered how to make jam without those little packets of pectin?
People used to make jam all the time without the use of convenient, single batch packages of pectin. Trouble is…who today remembers how?
You can make pectin from apples, not a complicated procedure, but who in early summer has access to fresh apples? Not on this homestead. The left-over apples, saved in the cellar from last autumn’s harvest, have long been tossed on the compost pile.
So, I wondered, how did people make jam before?
Turns out it’s quite easy, it just takes a little longer.
Mind you, the jam is slightly different in texture, taste and sometimes color. The jam still sets, but not as stiff as a pectin jam, you can’t, for example, stick a spoon in it and expect the spoon to stay up straight, which you often can with a pectin jam. I’ve tried.
The taste will be more fruity, perhaps a little more acidic because of the added lemon juice.
Depending on what type of sugar you use, the jam will may be slightly darker as well. I used organic, raw cane sugar, which is light brown, not white, and it makes a darker jam
You can see the jam is definitely “set”, but not stiff.
That’s OK with me, we like mixing our jam into yogurt, or spreading it over ice cream.
The taste is perhaps the most different. It’s a very rich strawberry flavor, more like the real fruit.
I’ll definitely be trying this method with other fruits this summer. And with my next batch of strawberry jam I’ll be adding some vanilla extract. Yes, add some exiting stuff like ginger, almond, vanilla or brandy to your jams.
The rule is to work with very clean equipment and to water boil the jam for 10 minutes after you’ve bottled it.
So here it goes:
When you prepare your berries, I think it’s really important to add some (maybe 5-10) unripe ones, they contain some natural pectin so they do help to set the jam.
For each pound of fruit you add 1/4 cup sugar, mix the sugar in and let this sit overnight, this will dissolve the sugar and release some of the fruit juices. It’s fine to let the mixture sit even longer, just make sure you stick it in the fridge.
Next morning put your fruit mixture in a dutch oven, bring to a boil and continue over simmering heat until your fruit has softened. This could take a while, don’t hurry this step. Keep stirring to prevent the fruit from scorching.
Now add you lemon juice, 2 teaspoons per pound of fruit that you prepared initially.
If your jam contains fruit pieces that are too big, just squish them a bit to break them up. I started with chopped strawberries so this wasn’t necessary for me to do.
Now do a taste test…is the jam sweet enough? If not, add some sugar.
Once you’re happy with the sweetness, then put in your add-ons like I suggested above. I forgot the vanilla this time (silly me), but will add it next time.
Bottle your jam in clean jars with new lids and clean rings and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
Let me know what you think.