“One berry, two berry, pick me a Blueberry !”
“Hatberry, Shoeberry in my Canoeberry;”
“Under the bridge and over the dam,”
“Looking for Berries – Berries for Jam !”
(from Bruce Degens, “Jamberry”)
Summer makes me happy, and summer fruits are the happy dance part. Last week we were running unbearably low, so I asked Husband Kain if he could stop by a fruit stand on his drive home from work and pick up any good deals.
So he did.
Yes this picture is my kitchen floor, not the fruit stand’s. (Will you dance with me?)
Since then, instead of blogging, I could be found in the kitchen pretty much non-stop (I asked for it!), canning, dehydrating, poaching, freezing, jamming…
Freezer jam is always a favorite, it is so packed with flavor, the process goes quickly, and my freezer (that I finally cleaned out) looks so colorful now with all the fruit and berry freezer jams stacked high.
With children, from set up to clean up it takes us about 15 minutes to: clean, peel, and chop fruit, add sugar, lemon juice, and instant pectin, then stir 3 minutes and pour into containers one batch of freezer jam. (Recipes are on the pectin containers.) But about that pectin…
Pectin certainly makes for an amazingly quick jam session, but it starts to get expensive when making several batches over and over.
Here’s the thing about pectin: not only is it an added cost to making jam, but commercial pectin adds a sour/bitter taste so more sugar is added to the jam recipe, a lot of times equal amounts of fruit and sugar are called for, sometime more sugar than fruit. That’s just not right. This was one of those ‘ah HA’ moments for me, which took way too many years to arrive at, but now that I get it I must share.
Since fruit has it’s own natural ‘pectin’, if we cook it, most fruit will thicken on it’s own without adding pectin. Granted cooking adds another 20-30 minutes or so to the time, but it is an option to make freezer (or canned) jam without pectin and less sugar and lots of natural fruit flavor. So I have been doing this now.
Another option on my to-do list to try in the near future is making my own pectin with under-ripe apples or the cores and peelings. A great post on this can be found here.
No Pectin Jam
You can make pectinless jam with most fruits plus sweetner. The following example is with blueberries, done early this summer. Blueberries are normally low in pectin, but it made a beautiful jam for me. Note that it is best to work in smaller batches to insure the jam sets.
I started with 6 cups of berries (2 lbs of blueberries), washed, then mash directly in a pot over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes until it’s soupy.
Add 2 cups of sweetener, honey preferably but I’m currently out, so sugar it is (or other sweetner).
Mix it in and bring it to a boil. Let it boil while you continue to stir, for about 20 minutes or more… until it starts to thicken.
The ‘dribble jam on a frozen plate and see if it thickens’ thing has never worked very well for me, but on both batches of blueberries I worked with, the 20-25 minute time ended up just right, although some fruits may need more cook time. Jams thicken even more once completely cooled.
Ta Da! That’s it.
Since I was freezing in plastic containers, I let it cool slightly before transfering it into freezer containers. Then label and freeze.
You certainly could waterbath this jam since it’s already hot (10 minutes for half-pint jam jars)
just eat it NOW!
You can always make jam in the winter with frozen fruit…which I have a feeling I will be doing with some peaches I haven’t gotten to yet. Well, if we don’t eat them all (it is our 3rd box though, one would think these children are ‘peached’ out)
I hope to encourage you to enjoy the pleasure of summer fruits in your very own homemade jam this winter, maybe even with less sugar and no pectin. Let me know if you made some for the first time! Remember if it turns out runny, just call it ice cream topping or pancake syrup. It’ll be perfect!