So here is my basic jam recipe. Have fun with it.
- 4 Cups fruit
- 4 Cups Sugar (this can really range from 3-5 Cups depending on the sweetness of the fruit)
- 1/4 Cup lemon juice, fresh or bottled
- Sterilize your jars.
- You can do this in your dishwasher if you have a sterilize cycle. I typically do this while prepping the fruit so the jars stay hot for filling.
- You can also boil your jars in your canner. Just simmer them for about 10 minutes at 180 degrees. The problem I have is I use the canner for the water bath.
- Tip: put some saucers in the freezer. you can use these to check to see if you jam is ready.
- Get your canning pot going. Add water to your canning pot. You will want to have enough water to cover your jars by an inh or two. Set the pot on high cover it, and when it starts to boil lower it to medium to keep a good simmer going.
- Add water to a medium sauce pan for your lids. This will ensure they are clean and soften up the sealant. you will want to put them on medium to simmer.
- In a medium stockpot, combine the fruit, sugar, and lemon juice; place over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar has dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Bring the mixture to a full boil, and cook, stirring frequently, 10 minutes. Place a candy thermometer in mixture, and cook, stirring frequently, until temperature registers 220 degrees. 30 to 40 minutes. While cooking, skim any foam that floats to the surface.
- Old school tip: You can add a tablespoon of butter to the fruit mixture. It will knock back the foam and just about eliminate the skimming.
- With the temperature at 220 degrees, perform a gel test. Remember those saucers in the freezer? Remove one of the plates from the freezer, and place a spoonful of the jam on it. Return the plate to freezer, and wait 1 minute. Remove plate from freezer, and gently nudge the edge of the jam with one finger. If the jam is ready, it will wrinkle slightly when pushed. If it is not ready, it will be too thin to wrinkle. If the jam does not wrinkle on the first attempt, cook 2 or 3 minutes more, and repeat the gel test.
- Once the jam has gelled properly, remove stockpot from heat.
If you jars are in the water bath
- Using canning tongs, remove a jar from the simmering water, and empty the water back into the stockpot.
- I don't like doing this since pouring the hot water can splash and burn. The dishwasher is much safer.
- Place the jar on a clean surface, and insert a canning funnel. Using a ladle, pour the jam through the funnel into the jar; fill to within 1/4 inch of the rim.
- Remove the funnel; wipe the rim with a clean damp towel. Very important. clean rim equals good seal!
- Using the tongs, lift a lid from the hot water; place lid, sealant side down, on the filled jar. Screw down the band, and tighten firmly, being careful not to force it.
- With the tongs, stand filled jar in your canning basket. Repeat with the remaining jam and jars, making sure jars aren't touching and are spaced 1 inch apart.
- Lower the basket into the water bath and raise the heat to high, cover stockpot, and bring water to a boil. Process jars in boiling water for no more than 10 minutes. Using tongs, transfer jars to a wire rack to cool completely. Store jam in a cool, dark place up to 1 year.
- Peach-Chipotle: Dice up two chipotles in adobo, remove the seeds and add just at the end and let boil for 1 minute.
- Peach-Vanilla: split a vanilla bean and scrape the vanilla seeds into the fruit pot. I add the bean too, just remove it when you fill your jars.
- Cherry-Cinnamon: Add a couple of cinnamon bark stick to the fruit while you cook it. Take them out when pouring into your jars.
- Cherry-Anise: Add a couple star anise to the fruit pot.
- Pear-Ancho: 2 ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded, soak in hot water until soft and minced.
- Apricot-Jalapeño: 2 stemmed, seeded, chopped jalapeños.
- Fruit Pectin. You don't really need it, but it will shorten your cooking time. You only bring the fruit to a boil for 1 minute.
- Some people use Fresh Fruit Protector to keep the fruit from browning. It's asorbic acid (Vitamin C) which is also in the lemon juice. It's your choice. I don't think it really needs anything beyond the lemon juice.
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