DIY: Making Jam

No comments

I love jam making. It's like everytime I make jam, I'm bottling up a bit of summer, a bit of the season, to be enjoyed for a long long time. If last year, I was the liqueur baroness, this year I am the jam begum.
I made three kinds of orange marmalade, jams, preserves, conserves and so it goes. I'm not sure what I was trying to achieve, but I wanted all kinds of fruit in bottles in my fridge.

While I don't have exact recipes, and I do play around with flavours quite a bit, here are some things to keep in mind while making jam

Sugar -  The ideal ratio is 1:1 Sugar is not just for adding sweetness to the jam, it also acts a preservative. If you want your jam to last longer than a week (of sorts) in the fridge, additional sugar is called for. In general I don't like sweet things so much, so the first few times I tried cutting down on the sugar. A lesson learnt well. Sugar -  YES!

Fruit - The fruit shouldn't be too ripe also not too unripe either but bordering on just before completely ripe. One reason I can think for this off the top of my head is imagine if you have a sweet ripe fruit and then add 1:1 in sugar, its just sweetness overload. But another reason is that, unripe sweets have more pectin which is what thickens the jam,

Vessel - I would say wide mouthed, heavy bottomed, fairly deep dish. In reality I use wide mouthed, really heavy bottomed, fairly deep Vinod frying pan. It needs to be wide and deep so that it allows the jam to bubble up and also heavy bottomed cos you're going to cook it over high heat ( I love Vinod. No, I'm not their brand ambassador, but this is the heaviest steel pans you get in India and I love it )

Heat - Jam is better cooked quicker over medium high heat than on low. It involves a lot more of a watchful eye over the stove, but I think you'll be happier with the results. The only reason my mum and I can think of is lower heat over a longer period kind of discolours the fruit. Quicker cooking keeps the colours and flavours intact. I also think quick cooking keeps the jam juicier than slow cooking. If someone hasn't warned you yet, stir quite a bit so it doesn't stick to the pan.

Foam - Skimming the foam gives a clearer jam, else cloudy. I say how does it matter? It tastes good!

Readiness -
  1. If you're using a thermometer, when the temp reaches 104C.
  2. If you don't mind dipping your finger into a really hot mix, when it reaches thread stage. If you rub and stretch your index and thumb and a thread forms between the fingers, that's thread stage.
  3. If you like neither of the above, keep a clean plate in the freezer. When you think the jam is ready (lower the heat), spoon a bit on the plate and place it back in fridge for 5 mins. Run a finger through the jam moving it off the plate, does the wrinkle stay or does the jam flow back? If it stays wrinkled, your jam is ready, else, gotta get back to the stove. Remember lower the heat or your jam would be bubbling up and cooking away while you were waiting for the wrinkle and you cant save it. Better to be getting to the jam stage than going over it and not getting back
  4. You can also use visual clues and check the drip, the slower and thinner the drip towards the end of holding a spoon up, you're good to go. It starts off thick and then moves to thin.
I use a combo of 2 and 4.

Storing - Always use clean, dry jars. No moisture anywhere. I keep my jams in the fridge since they are preservative free and I don't want to take any chances. Spoon jam slightly warm into the jars, leave to cool and then cover them.

Set - After all the tests above, the jam can set in the fridge, perhaps not immediately, but maybe over a couple of days and sometimes a week.

Can you put the jam back on the stove? - Ok so you did all the tests, waited for the set and it still hasn't happened. Yes, go ahead put it back on the stove. No sweat. You might get slight discolouration, but it might be better than jam dripping off your toast. Has your jam set too much? I know I said over cooked jam cant be saved cos the sugar caramelizes etc. But last week, my cherry jam turned out a little too hard after cooling. I tipped the whole thing back on the pan, added a bit of water to loosen it up and brought it back to thread stage. So you see, there are few instances of your jam completely going wrong.

Jam, Preserves, Conserves
When its smooth fruit pureed, its jam. When there are chunky bits of fruits in the jam, its called a preserve. Dried fruits & nuts in your jam/preserve? It's then called a conserve. Tada!

Additions -  Jams in general benefit from having a bit of sourness to it. So a dash of lemon/lime to the jam while its bubbling away is quite good. Other additives are completely according to taste. I've been known to add ginger to marmalade, cloves to peach, orange to figs and all sorts of other combos. If it tastes good, go for it!

There! I hope I made jam making simple for you.

Have an queries? Drop in a comment. I'll try my best to answer them.

No comments :

Post a Comment