The Jam Weekend or SHF no.22 - Can you can?
August 25th, 2006

It was pretty clear form the get-go that last weekend would be all about making jams and preserves. Hosting this month’s edition of Sugar High Friday I ought to better come up with a decent contribution myself, shouldn’t I. Books and magazines have been studied, shopping lists – not only one – have been written and still, all plans were quickly thrown overboard the minute I entered the market. How come that I have such a hard time sticking to a shopping list? Sure, it’s a good thing to show some flexibility and being able to wing it – if required, or in this case, adapt to food that is available and in season. But if raspberries are in season, available and on my list, why is it that I suddenly feel the urge to go for blackberries? So weird.

SHF no.22

Sometimes compromises are a good thing, other times I want my cake and eat it too. So in the end I purchased all items on my list PLUS the ones I spontaneously decided I needed to have, which made me look like a burro. The Stephani stand owner facetiously commented the situation with a question, asking where I had left my man… There you go, they’re never around when you need ‘em most!

I do love (love love) to try and experiment with new flavors and combinations. However, for the everyday breakfast table I prefer fresh and simple tastes over everything too fancy. Guava, strawberry pepper, coffee jelly and more extravagant spreads and jams had their appearance in our kitchen, but none left a lasting and pleasing impression.

Nectarine Vanilla Jam

The general jam making procedure is simple and straightforward, but you’ll have to make up your mind whether you want to go for the long haul or take a shortcut.

Sterilizing the jars: Put clean and empty jars with separate screw lids in boiling water for a few minutes. Carefully remove them (I use my BBQ tongs), place them on clean kitchen towels and fill them with the boiling hot jam immediately. Try not to spill any jam on the edges, because it’s really important to work as scrupulously clean as possible! Some books recommend sterilizing jars in a hot oven at 110 °C (230 F) for a few minutes before filling them with the jam, a method I haven’t tried myself.

Note: By sterilizing the lids in boiling water, the heat will expand the gumming and therefore ensure a proper vacuum later. I re-use my jars including the lids (the ones I get back anyway…) at least two or three times, as long as their lids aren’t obviously damaged or discolored and I haven’t experienced any problems so far.

Red Currant Jelly

The long haul: Clean and prepare fruits (net weight about 1 kg) and put them in a large pot together with an (almost) equal amount of white sugar, the juice of one lemon and additional spices – if desired. Cover and let rest over night. Heat the pot and let the mixture boil vigorously for a few minutes. Process with a handheld blender if you prefer a velvety texture without larger fruit pieces. Remove any foam with a skimmer. Fill sterilized jars with boiling hot jam, leaving less than a centimeter of headspace. Close jar with the lid and allow to cool upside down before turning back to an upright position. Keep jars in a dark and cool place.

Or alternatively, the quick version: Clean and prepare fruits (net weight about 1 kg) and put them in a large pot together with the preserving sugar of your choice (a mixture of sugar, pectins, citric acid, sometimes sorbic acid) and some additional lemon juice or spices – again, if desired. Heat the pot and let the mixture boil vigorously for a few minutes, optionally process with a handheld blender. Remove any foam with a skimmer. Fill sterilized jars with boiling hot jam, leaving less than a centimeter of headspace. Close jar with the lid and allow to cool upside down before turning back to an upright position. Keep jars in a dark and cool place.

Blueberry-Nectarine Jam

Here are my weekend results:

Nectarine – Blueberry Jam
80 % nectarines, 20 % blueberries – and still, the mix turned dark purple. To keep them whole, the blueberries were added for the last two minutes after I had pureed the nectarines with a handheld blender.

Nectarine – Vanilla Jam
My favorite. I couldn’t stop myself and added three huge vanilla pods, their aroma supports so well the mellow consistency (the handheld blender stroke again).

Red Currant Jelly
Straining the red currants was anything but fun. But this tart jelly is a breakfast standard I can’t do without.

Earl Grey – Prune – Vanilla Jam
OK, it’s (obviously) not the color that’s making it a compelling recipe. But taste wise, it’s much better – yet, there is room for improvement (no recipe included).

What happened to the blackberries? Stay tuned ;)

Earl Grey - Prune - Vanilla Jam

Now if you have discovered a weak spot for making jams and jellies, these sites provide more detailed background information on the subject.

Or are you looking for a few new cookbooks about jams and preserves?

Personal recommendations include:
Einmachen by Laurence Laurendon, Gilles Laurendon
Perfect Pickles, Chutneys & Relishes (nothing sweet though!)

On my wish list you could find:
Preserved by Nick Sandler
Preserves by Catherine Atkinson
Wir kochen Sie ein by Ilse Gutmann

PS: Make sure to check back for the SHF no. 22 Round Up on Monday!

Nectarine Jam with Vanilla

Recipe source: own creation

Prep time: 45min.

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Ingredients (yields 5-6 small jars):

1kg fresh nectarines (skinned and coarsely cut)

juice of half a lemon

3 vanilla pods (split and seeds scrapped out)

500g preserving sugar 1:2

2 generous shots of Marillenschnaps

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Blueberry - Nectarine Jam

Recipe source: own creation

Prep time: 45min.

.

Ingredients (yields 5-6 small jars):

800g fresh nectarines (skinned and coarsely cut)

juice of half a lemon

1 vanilla pod (split and seeds scrapped out)

200g fresh blueberries

500g preserving sugar 1:2

.

Red Currant Jelly

Recipe source: own creation

Prep time: 30-45min.

.

Ingredients (yields about 3 small jars):

400g red currant juice (from 1kg fresh berries)

juice of half a lemon

200g preserving sugar 1:2

Comments

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2006

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2006

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2006

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