Thursday, September 17, 2009

More Canning Fun: We're Jammin'

I am a jam snob. I freely admit it. I haven't bought jam at the supermarket in over five years. I'll never be able to go back after eating the homemade stuff. There's just no comparison. But here's the good news: you can be a jam snob, too. Making your own jam is really, really easy. Honest.

This past Saturday, my friend and I spent many hours making pluot jam. For those who don't know what a pluot is (which is just about everyone I've ever met), a pluot is a cross between a plum and apricot. And lucky for me - my in-laws have a tree (no one quite knows how it became a pluot tree) that puts out a ridiculous amount of fruit each year. So, like last year, my husband and I picked way too much (like 50 lbs.) and my friend and I started jamming like crazy. Nearly six hours (and about 35 lbs. of sugar) later, we had over 100 cups of jam to split between us. Your jam adventure, though, needn't take nearly as long, nor do you need to make even close to that much. It's all about how much you want, how much fruit you have, and what your family will actually eat. Even now, I'm wondering what I'll do with all this jam....

But enough about what I've been doing. Making jam is a simple way to preserve all the delicious berries and fruit of the summer months. There's just something so lovely about taking something that has been ripening in the sun and preserving it for the cold months of winter. To make it, you really only need three ingredients: fruit, sugar, and pectin. Sometimes you need some lemon juice (some fruits need the extra acid) and a couple teaspoons of butter (to prevent foaming). Note: for a much more in-depth introduction on jamming, check out this article from one of my favorite websites, Simple Mom. It's got a lot of great info. The only problem I found with it was that she said that processing isn't necessary as long as the jars and jam are hot. Personally, I wouldn't risk it. Either process your jam or freeze it, I say.

With each box of pectin (I always buy the powdered kind of pectin), comes an insert complete with recipes and instructions on how to make the jam. The insert has a chart with every fruit you could possibly want to make jam out of (well, except pluot - I just used the plum recipe), how much of that fruit you'll need, along with the amount of sugar you'll need (every time I make jam, I feel a little sick at how much sugar is needed - jam certainly is not health food). It gives instructions on how to prepare the fruit (either chop or mash) and then how to cook it.

The method is quite simple - cook the prepared fruit and pectin until it comes to boil, add the sugar, bring it back to a rolling boil, and cook for a minute longer (this is when it gets scary and splattery - be sure to use a tall pot and a long spoon to avoid burns.). Once the minute is up, put the jam into sterilized jars, secure the lids, and process in either a water-bath or steam canner. Always adjust your processing time for altitude if you live a 1000 or more feet above sea level (for example, the recipe on the insert says to process for ten minutes and then I add another ten since I live between 3,000 and 6,000 feet elevation. You will find the helpful altitude adjustment chart on the insert, too). You can also skip the processing and make freezer jam. I've never made the freezer jam myself, but I've heard it's also easy to do.

I feel kind of like a slacker giving semi-vague instructions and just telling you to check out the pectin insert, but, seriously, all the info you could possibly want is on that little piece of paper. Let it guide you. You can't go wrong. Plus, if, for some reason, some of your jam doesn't set quite right and is a little too liquidy (this happened with one of our batches), you can always go back and fix it (yes, yes, the instructions to do that are also on the insert). Homemade jam is delicious and forgiving. What more could you want in a condiment?

11 comments:

Abz said...

Sa-weet! You obviously know by now that I'm reading your blog! :) So I'll be the first to tell ya, my favorite jam is APRICOT!!! Yummy Yummy!! And again I didn't realize it was SO easy to make! I'm kinda wishing I had responded to all those "free apricot" adds on KSL a few weeks ago...I wonder if they are already out of season. Anyways! Love the blog! Keep it up! :)

Stephanie F. said...

I'm reading :) When I grow up I want to be like you.
I'm a strawberry jam kind of girl. Although my mom just gave me some apricot/raspberry and some blueberry/peach that I can't wait to open.

Heather Dixon said...

Oh, wow! Yes! I've never heard of pluots before. That's kewl. My favorite jam's always been raspberry, followed by apricot. I'm a sucker for strawberry, too.

Shel said...

Can I just be you for a day? You're the coolest!!!!!! And I'd love to try the pluot jam. :) That's so awesome!

Lisa said...

I've never even heard of pluots. That is so great! I wish I had your talent. I love your new blog!

Ginger said...

I've stopped by the blog and even READ it. You have a way of writing that makes it easy to read and I do love your pictures too. Have to say I like rasberry jam. I'm more of a jam gal than a jelly gal. Would love to taste a pluot someday-sounds interesting? I'm going to mark your blog in my Fav's. Good luck!!

Ryan Woodbury said...

First off I think I have told you this before, but I LOVE to read your blog(s). It is almost as if you were right there saying what I am reading. I don't know why but whenever I read your blog I can totally hear you saying what I am reading right in my ear! Too Funny!!! Anyway last year Remi brought us some of your Pluot jam for Christmas and now everytime we hear of anything Pluot (they had some at Costco a while ago and we heard it on T.V.) Talia quickly reminds me how that is her FAVORITE kind of jam! We gobbled up the bottle of jam last year so fast I agree with Talia it is delish! Anyhow my fav jam is raspberry I made some (just freezer jam) this year and I LOVE it!!! Good job on all your hard work!!!

Carrie Starr said...

I just started learning how to can things, and jam was top of my list. Raspberry is my favorite, but I love trying new kinds. Thanks for the tips and fun offer!

Jenn Wilks said...

I've always just loved good old strawberry jam. I haven't tried a lot of the other kinds, though. And I definitely haven't tried plout. :o) I'd love to, though, so count me in on the drawing, please!

Estrellita said...

When i was young, my mother always made me eat soggy white bread with jam so it's no wonder I grew up never really liking jam.

However, one fine day, I managed to stop by Ikea and tried their lovely meatballs with raspberry jam. I thought it was really odd at first but it turned out to be really good!

So tell me, princess ^______^, what goes well with jam usually?

P.s.: I know I didn't list my favourite jam, so I'm not elligible. ;)

Heather said...

So many jam options - toast, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, pancakes, waffles. My friend (the one I mentioned in the post) mixes her pluot jam into plain yogurt. Some people really like pairing it up with meats for a savory-sweet kind of thing (I once used apricot jam on pork chops - pretty good). Anyone else have any good suggestions?

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