How To… make any jam.

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.

2: Fruit.

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.

3: Sugar.

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.

4: Gelling.

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.

6: Microwave.

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.

7: Raw.

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.

8: Jars.

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.

9: Fridge.

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!

Persimmon jam is ridiculously easy.

So, recipe corner!

Now, what’s more seasonal than to gather a pile of lovely fruit and veggies from the harvest and preserve them to last through the Winter? And, of course, everyone’s favourite is jam. Jam as pie-filling, jam tarts, jam on rolls, jam alongside a nice slice of meat. Pretty much everyone loves a good jam. Even I (a passionate avoider of sugars, common wheat, conventional cakes and pre-made sauces), love a nice jam once in a while.

So why not make our own?

Now, there are plenty of seasonal jam and preserve recipes. Blackberry, apple, orange, cranberry, pear… But something I hadn’t previously considered was persimmon jam. You see, Kaki Persimmons are seasonal in Winter too. And, as seasonal fruit tends to do, you find them very expensive at the start and end of the season and being sold dirt-cheap in markets and Asian stores the rest of the season.

So, upon going to my local market and finding a tray of persimmons for £2, I had to have them.

Half my hoard. About 20 persimmons total, each the size of a large apple.

Half my hoard. About 20 persimmons total, each the size of a large apple.

But I found, when I got home, that some of the more robust fruits had been bullying the slightly overripe persimmons. Whatever to do with four bruised and soft persimmons?

As the title suggests, my idea was to jam them.

Considering how gelatinous persimmon flesh is, it somewhat amazes me that I’d never tried to preserve them. But, now I had thought of it, I decided to go ahead.

Recipe.

Ingredients:

-4 overripe/bruised persimmons

-5-8 spoonfuls of honey or sugar

-1 spoonful lemon juice

Equipment:

-small knife

-sauce-pot/small pot

-stirring spoon

-bowl

-fork

-blender

Instructions:

1: Peel and core your persimmons. Make sure any seeds are fished out.

2: Mash them in a bowl with a fork until they lose all form.

3: Stir-in the honey/sugar and lemon.

4: Pour the mix into your pot and put it on a low heat, stirring all the time. (This is to remove excess juice via evaporation. Being gelatinous, a drier or a pressed persimmon may jam on its own, so a raw alternative is perfectly possible.)

5: Set jam to one side to cool. Once cool, if making it with honey, stir some more in.

6: Blend out any unevenly large pieces.

 

The advantages of using honey or sugar are both obvious.

Sugar:

-cheaper

-aids jamming

-preservative

-adds sweetness without having a distinctive flavour

-vegan (if unfiltered)

Honey:

-antiseptic qualities (if raw and added AFTER boiling)

-adds a new dimension of flavour

-good if avoiding plain sugar

-you can use less of it

It’s up to you to decide which suits your needs/tastes best.

Finally, the end result looks like this:

Persimmon jam, honey edition.

Persimmon jam, honey edition.

So, if you want something a little brighter, you can add a natural colouring or a few drops of beetroot juice.

Hope it turns out well!

So, what jams and preserves do YOU like making over Winter? Any ideas on what to do with 250-400ml of persimmon jam? :p