Thursday, May 05, 2011

Mixed Berry Preserves

Another thing K and I made while I was with her over the "weekend" was jam. Through our process of learning what is food and what is not food (but which often tastes great), we wanted to cover the idea that you can often make things, very easily and cheaply, that you can buy premade in the store. Except they taste better when you make them at home. Jam seemed like a great example of this. For convenience, we used frozen fruit to make the jam instead of buying fruit from the produce aisle (and having to spend time cutting it up). This worked out really well. I'd never tried to make jam with frozen fruit before, but I'm pretty sure I'll be doing it again in the future.

This is an added pectin-free recipe. My general thoughts on buying pectin are that it can be a really great idea if that's the way you like to can, but that it's not necessary. I actually own a couple packets of pectin, but I've never used them and wouldn't really even know how (unless I read the directions, of course). Mostly I just like to let the fruit release its own pectin and work its magic au natural. So that's how K and I did it. Hope you enjoy!

1 pound bag frozen mixed berries (this had raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries), thawed
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon (ish - I eyeballed it) lemon juice

Put a small plate and a spoon in the freezer. Combine the ingredients in a pot (larger than you think you need) and stir well. Let them hang out somewhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours, and stir every so often. This should release loads of extra juices from the fruit, which is nice because then you need no extra water. Over medium-low to medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring periodically (make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot with your spoon while you stir), then let it simmer, stirring occasionally, until it starts to thicken up. When you think it's reached the gelling point, put a little jam with your frozen spoon onto your frozen plate. Put the jam plate back into the freezer for one minute. When it comes out, push on the jam with your finger. If it wrinkles or kind of maintains its shape, it's done. If it doesn't, keep cooking the jam and try again. I think we cooked the jam for maybe 15 minutes before it gelled. Ladle the jam into a sterilized 12-ounce or 1 pint jar and cool on the counter for a bit. Pop the lid on and refrigerate. Use within a couple weeks. Or, if you don't want to use it immediately, can in a water bath for 10 minutes.

2 comments:

  1. Not all fruits have a high concentration of pectin (blueberries and apples have some of the most I believe) and so, a lot of fruits won't jell properly without either additional pectin or perhaps a little apple thrown in! If that super-hard jell is not a requirement for your consumption, then don't bother with pectin. It's basically to reassure those who are used to commercial products.

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  2. Yeah, that's very true. Quince, crabapples and citrus have a lot also. I don't think I've ever come across a fruit that wouldn't gel sufficiently though without added pectin (though they of course don't if you're looking for that commercial texture). But the super-hard commercial gel actually weirds me out a little, since I'm so accustomed to home-made or boutiquey kinds of preserves. So when we were making the jam, I let her know that it wasn't going to have that super hard gel and she seemed fine w/ the idea. Thanks for the reminder, so I can let her know about making preserves using pectin if she finds she prefers that texture!!

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