Thursday, July 29, 2021

Jams and Jellies Two Ways



One of the best ways to preserve this summer’s fruit bounty is to fill the pantry with jars of colorful jams and jellies to enjoy year-round. A few years ago, I explored methods for making jam and jelly while researching for an article I was writing. The results were two processes that both produced excellent results.


The first was a method popular in Europe. Unlike the traditional jam-making process, where the filled jars are boiled in water to seal, this technique has you fill the jars with the hot jam and then turn them upside down. Once they’ve cooled, they’re sealed. Also, the recipe calls for equal amounts of sugar and fruit by weight. Sugar, like salt and acid, is a preservative.


The second is the more traditional method. I used it to make grape jelly with my mom. The trick with jelly is to strain the juice, so the final product is clear. Plus, unlike the jam recipe, we used pectin to help make sure the jelly became firm. With pectin, it is important to not over-cook the mixture, or it will be set like rubber.


If jam and jelly making is on your summer schedule, check out these two recipes. They will work with whatever fruit you want to preserve.

Yield: 8 (4-ounce) jars
Author: Linda Ditch
European Style Strawberry Jam

European Style Strawberry Jam

The recipe is for one pound of fruit. If you have more, just adjust the recipe by weight. For example, I had 1 pound, 13 ounces of strawberries, so I used the same amount of sugar and 2 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of stemmed and cleaned fresh strawberries, (or frozen strawberries, thawed with the juice)
  • 1 pound sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water, if necessary
  • 8 4-ounce jars, with lids and screw bands

Instructions

  1. First, start by sterilizing the jars: Wash the jars in warm, soapy water or the dishwasher. Also, wash the screw bands by hand. In a large pot or canner, place the jars without lids on a rack so they do not touch the bottom. If you don’t have a rack, place the rings on the bottom and set the jars on top. Fill with water to 2 inches above the jars. Cover and heat to boiling, and then boil for 10 minutes. After that time, turn the heat to low and keep the jars in the water until needed.
  2. Place the flat canning lids in a saucepan off the heat and pour some of the liquid from the boiling pot over the top to cover. This will soften the rubber to help the lids seal. Also, place a small plate into the freezer to use to test the jam later.
  3. In a large pot, place the berries, sugar, and lemon juice. (If using frozen berries, do not use the water since the juice that comes out of the berries when they thaw will be enough.) Stir together and using a potato masher, mash the berries to help them break down and release their juice. Add water, if necessary.
  4. Bring the berries to a boil, stirring constantly. Keep stirring and boil for 20 minutes. Take the plate out of the freezer and drop a small amount of the jam on top. Use your finger to test how well it gels. If it has gelled enough, turn off the burner. If not, keep boiling and test every 5 minutes until ready, up to 30 minutes.
  5. When ready, turn off the heat and skim any foam off the top. Take a jar out of the water and drain. Ladle in the hot jam (a funnel helps) until it is almost full, about 1/8 inch from the top. Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp towel to clean off any drips, and then take a flat lid from the warm water and place on top. Screw on a ring and then flip the jar upside down and sit it on a rack to cool.
  6. Continue until all of the jars are filled and upside down. Allow the jam to cool completely before turning right-side-up. To check the seal, press on the lid. If it springs back, the jar is not sealed. The jam is still good. Just store the unsealed jar in the refrigerator. Also, refrigerate any jar after it’s opened.
  7. Note: You can process the jars the traditional way. Just place the jars into a canner or large pot with a rack, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 2 inches. Put the lid on top and bring it to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, and then remove the jars and sit to cool.
Yield: 8 8-ounce jars
Author: Linda Ditch
Mom’s Grape Jelly

Mom’s Grape Jelly

If you don’t have the grapes, this recipe works with bottled pure grape juice. Mom suggests Welch’s.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 pounds Concord grapes, stems removed
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 box Sure Jell pectin
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 8 8-ounce jars, with lids and screw bands

Instructions

  1. First, prepare the jars: Wash the jars in warm, soapy water or the dishwasher. Also, wash the screw band rings by hand.
  2. Place the grapes into a large pot and crush with a potato masher. Add the water and bring the pot to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Over a large bowl, ladle the grapes and juice through a fine-mesh strainer, a few ladles full at a time, pressing with the back of the spoon to squeeze the juice from the pulp. Discard the pulp.
  4. Over another bowl, secure three layers of damp cheesecloth or a piece of muslin over the top with a rubber band or string. (Mom uses muslin.) Slowly ladle the grape juice onto the cheesecloth so the juice slowly drains through into the bowl. Use a spoon to scrape aside the accumulated fine pulp on the cloth to help the juice flow through.
  5. Fill a canner halfway full of water and sit on the stove. Turn the heat to high and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and place the jars inside to warm so the warm jelly mixture will not cause them to break. Place the flat canning lids in a saucepan off the heat and pour some of the liquid from the canner over the top to cover. This will soften the rubber to help the lids seal. Place a small plate into the freezer to use to test the jelly later.
  6. In a separate bowl, measure the exact amount of sugar. Set aside until needed.
  7. Measure 5 cups of the grape juice into a large pot and add the box of pectin. Add the butter to keep the juice from foaming. On high heat, bring the juice to a boil, stirring constantly.
  8. When the juice comes to a boil, quickly add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Bring the mixture back to a boil. Take the plate out of the freezer and drop a small amount of the jelly mixture on top. Use your finger to test how well it gels. If it has gelled enough, turn off the burner. If not, only boil for one additional minute and then turn off the heat.
  9. Remove the jars from the warm water and turn up the heat to bring the canner back to a boil. Quickly ladle the hot jelly mixture into the jars, filling to within 1/8-inch from the top. Wipe the rims with a damp cloth to remove any drips, and then place a warmed flat lid on top. Screw on the bands.
  10. Gently place the jars into the canner. Make sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 to 2 inches. If not, add more boiling water to the canner. Cover, bring the canner back to a boil, and process for 5 minutes.
  11. Remove the jars from the canner and place them on a towel to cool completely. You will hear the lids start to pop almost immediately as they seal. To check the seal on the cooled jars, press on the lid. If it springs back, the jar is not sealed. The jelly is still good. Just store the unsealed jar in the refrigerator. Also, refrigerate any jar after it’s opened.

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