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Friday, September 13, 2013

Can Some Jam!

It's Friday! Perhaps you have a lot of time on your hand this weekend and want to try something new. Maybe you've always wanted to make your own jam. Either way, I've got a few recipes to get you started on your jamming adventures!

Peach Jam with Lemon Basil
The Washington Post, Sept 4, 2013

Lemon basil, if you can find it, adds an herbal note that plays well off the sweet tartness of the peaches. Regular basil, lemon thyme or lemongrass can be substituted. MAKE AHEAD: The fruit macerates for between 8 and 48 hours, either in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
Makes 8 to 10 half-pints

  • 6 1/2 pounds large ripe yellow freestone peaches
  • 3 pounds sugar
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 large branches (12 sprigs) lemon basil
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, reduce to a high simmer, and drop the peaches into the water for a minute or two. Drain and let them cool, then carefully slip the peels off with your hands or, if the peaches aren't quite ripe, with a paring knife. Halve and pit the peaches and cut them into 1/2-inch slices.
  2. Put the slices into a mixing bowl and stir in the sugar and lemon juice. Cover with plastic wrap or parchment, pushing it directly onto the surface of the peaches, and macerate for at least 8 hours or as long as 48 hours, either in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
  3. When you're ready to make the jam, put five metal teaspoons into the freezer for testing the jam later. Wash jars, rings, and lids by in hot soapy water and rinse them. Fill a water-bath canner or large stockpot equipped with a lid and a rack halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add the jars until covered by at least 1 inch of water (adding more water if needed), and boil for 10 minutes to sterilize. Turn off the heat and cover to keep the jars hot until you fill them. (You can also sterilize jars in the dishwasher; just keep hot until using.) In a separate small saucepan, cover the lids with water and bring just to a simmer, but do not boil.
  4. Transfer the peaches to a large, wide pot set over high heat. Stir well to incorporate any undissolved sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and let it boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and skim off all the foam.
  5. Return the mixture to medium-high heat and cook until thickened, stirring with a heat-proof spatula and scraping the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking or scorching, 25 to 40 minutes. (Lower the heat as the mixture thickens, also to prevent scorching.) Test for doneness by turning off the heat and placing a small amount of jam onto one of the teaspoons in your freezer. Return to the freezer for 1 to 2 minutes and check the consistency. If it’s too runny, continue cooking for a few more minutes and test again. While you're testing the consistency and the jam is off the heat, skim off any remaining foam. When the jam is as thick as you'd like, add the lemon basil sprigs or branches, pushing them under the surface of the jam.
  6. Allow the lemon basil to steep for about 5 minutes, then taste the jam to make sure enough of the herbal flavor has come through, leaving it for longer if desired. Remove the lemon basil with tongs, shaking off excess jam, and discard.
  7. Remove the jars from the hot water. Pour the hot jam into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head room. Run a chopstick around the inside edge of the jars to break up any air bubbles, wipe the rims clean with a moistened paper towel, and add the lids and screw on the rings until they are just barely tightened. Process by returning the jars to the canner or pot, making sure they are covered by 1 to 2 inches of water, and bring to a boil. Cover, and process for 10 minutes (from the time the water comes to a boil). Transfer the jars to a cooling rack to sit at least 24 hours undisturbed. They will seal as they cool; you may hear the satisfying pings as they do. Test seals after 24 hours by removing bands and lifting the jars by the lids to make sure the lids don't come off; transfer any jars that didn't seal to the refrigerator, where they can be stored for up to 3 months. The sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 year.

NOTE: Times given are for altitudes up to 1,000 feet. Consult a site such as for high-altitude directions.

Old-Fashioned Raspberry Jam
by Eleanor Topp and Margaret Howard
The Complete Book of Year-Round Small-Batch Preserving

  • 4 cups (1 liter) granulated sugar
  • 4 cups (1 liter) raspberries
  1. Place sugar in an ovenproof shallow pan and warm in a 250°F (120°C) oven for 15 minutes. (Warm sugar dissolves better.)
  2. Place berries in a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a full boil over high heat, mashing berries with a potato masher as they heat. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Add warm sugar, return to a boil, and boil until mixture will form a gel (see tips, below), about 5 minutes.
  4. Ladle into sterilized jars and process as directed for Shorter Time Processing Procedure.
Tip: To make a small boiling-water canner, tie several screw bands together with string or use a small round cake rack in the bottom of a large covered Dutch oven. Be sure the pan is high enough for 2 inches (5 cm) of water to cover the jars when they are sitting on the rack.

Kitchen Tips: To determine when the mixture will form a gel, use the spoon test: Dip a cool metal spoon into the hot fruit. Immediately lift it out and away from the steam and turn it horizontally. At the beginning of the cooking process, the liquid will drip off in light, syrupy drops. Try again a minute or two later — the drops will be heavier. The jam is done when the drops are very thick and two run together before falling off the spoon.

"The intensity of this jam is due to the fact that it has no added fruit pectin," says Topp. Adding pectin helps the jam jell, but necessitates more sugar, which dilutes the natural flavor of the fruit. Making jam without added pectin requires more careful cooking (see notes about the spoon test, above), but the extra effort pays off in a deliciously old-fashioned, fruity product.

Drunken Fig Jam
Jill Silverman Hough, Bon Appetit, Oct 2008

  • 2 lemons
  • 4 pounds ripe fresh figs (preferably black), stemmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 9 cups)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup brandy or Cognac
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  1. Using vegetable peeler, remove peel from lemons (yellow part only) in long strips. Cut peel into matchstick-size strips (about 3 tablespoons).
  2. Combine lemon peel, figs, sugar, brandy, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt in heavy large deep saucepan; let stand at room temperature 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  3. Bring fig mixture to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium; continue to boil until jam thickens and is reduced to 6 cups, stirring frequently and occasionally mashing mixture with potato masher to crush large fig pieces, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Ladle mixture into 6 hot clean 1/2-pint glass canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch space at top of jars. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe jar threads and rims with clean damp cloth. Cover with hot lids; apply screw bands. Process jars in pot of boiling water 10 minutes. Cool jars completely. Store in cool dark place up to 1 year.

Happy baking!

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