This post is part of the Nutritional Health Series, check the tag for the other posts!
Jam is a great way to make use of large amounts of fruit or slightly damaged or defrosted fruit. Many people don’t think they have the time for jam, but really, it’s fast, simple and will save you a lot of money on wasted fruit and buying jams!
1: The basics.
Jams come in three distinct forms. A jelly, made from only the juice. A jam, made from crushed fruit and juice. And a compote, a jelly with whole fruit preserved in it. They are all made largely from fruit and sugar, but sometimes use gelling agents like pectin or gelatine to help them along.
You need fruit for a jam or jelly. At least 500g or 1lb of fruit is needed to make a large portion of jam, but with the microwave method you can make smaller batches! Fruit juice is also an option.
In some jams, like marmalade, you use the rinds of the fruit as well as the flesh and juice.
The most efficient sugars for jam are crystal sugars, like white sugar, demarera sugar or brown cane sugar. But soft sugars like honey, palm sugar or maple syrup can work too, with a bit more patience.
The perfect ratio for jam is between 50/50 and 1/3 sugar to 2/3 fruit.
If you’re really not sure your jam will set, consider using a gelling agent.
- Pectin is a natural fruit gelling agent you can use to firm up a jam.
- Gelatine comes from animal bones and collagen, but may make your jam too solid.
- Packaged jelly is easier to use for a bit of flavoured firmness.
- Agar is a seaweed product that is used instead of gelatine in veg*n dishes.
5: In a pot.
The traditional way. You put your fruit in a pot and simmer until it begins to break down and release fluids. Then you add the sugar slowly, stirring the whole time. Reduce the jam and let it cool.
Small batches of jam can be made in the microwave. Just crush the fruit and sugar together in a microwave-safe bowl, cook for a minute at a time and stir in between until it becomes viscous.
If you combine gelatinous fruit, like bananas, persimmons or lychee, with your sweet fruit and sugar of choice, you can make a tasty raw jam. Just blend 1/3 gelatinous fruit with 1/3 fruit pulp (mash the sweet fruit and squeeze the juice out) and 1/3 your sugar of choice. A viscous sugar like palm sugar, maple syrup or honey works best.
Traditional jams can be preserved in a jar. Be sure to soak the jar in boiling water first and fill and seal it while it’s still hot. If you have a canning station, this may be the best option, but otherwise hot jam into a hot jar and seal works fine. My jams last a whole year like this without going off.
Microwave and raw jams are best kept more aerated in a bowl with a lid in the fridge. They keep 5-10 days, less if less sugar is involved.
And that’s how to make any jam you fancy. Almost all fruits can be jammed, but gelatinous fruits, apples, pears and berries will jam easier due to their high pectin content!
What’s your favourite jam or preserve?
TTFN and Happy Hunting!