Friday, July 8, 2011

Jam Jam Jam

On the Friday before the 4th of July, I harvested my first palm full of raspberries out of my backyard patch. That was the kick in the butt I needed to finish preserving the fruits I have squirreled away in my chest freezer from last year. Out with the old and in with the new!

I made a batch of raspberry jam thickened with help from the pectin in a few green apples. The recipe was Raspberry Jam with Mint and Lavender from Canning for a New Generation. I thought I had lavender in my spice drawer but I was all out. I didn't want to stop to go to the store so I ended up stirring in a mixture of spearmint and chocolate mint. I kept the green apple flesh in the jam (peels removed at the end). This made a perfect amount for my jars so I didn't have any leftovers to sample! I am curious to try this later.

I started rhubarb season off with a trip to the farmers' market to buy some because my own patch is just a baby and I hadn't been offered any from anyone else. Then word got around that I was interested in rhubarb and it started flooding in! I didn't want to turn it down, so now I have many pounds of it prepped in the freezer. After it is frozen, it is really only good for sauces and jams because it released a lot of liquid when it thaws. I guess I am going to have to wait until next year to try Roasted Rhubarb Ketchup.

I used up some of my stash in a Ginger Rhubarb Jam (recipe from Gourmet Preserves Chez Madelaine). This jam includes chunks of ginger root that steep in the jam and slices of crystallized ginger. This jam is in your face with its gingery-ness.

Lastly, Paul's mom Joanne gave us a cantaloupe and a watermelon at the same time. So as to not let it go to waste, I made a batch of Melon Preserves (recipe from Put 'em Up).

This was the first batch I have made with Pomona's Pectin. I was a bit disappointed because I ended up with fruit float and the jam only seems to firm up after it is refrigerated. Since making this batch, I've used it in another batch and had no problem. I wonder if my results were just due to the watery and chunky nature of the melon. Have you worked with Pomona's Pectin? If so, have you had good results? Have you made recipes without any sugar? How about honey as a sugar substitute? I like the potential for making low-sugar, no sugar and sugar substitute preserves.


  1. I enjoy reading your blog, from the knitting to the canning. Our kitchen is all torn canning this year.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Mary Lynn. I hope your kitchen is torn up for improvement purposes. Loving your cooking space is a great thing!

  3. I've had excellent luck with Pomona's over the years. I find that most of the recipes provided with the packets are a good starting point but wind up being a tad bland if you follow them to the letter. I usually borrow methods from regular pectin recipes and adapt them to pomona's low-sugar properties.

    I've experimented with honey as a sweetener in certain jams (blueberry-lavender and apple preserves are two of my favorites for honey). I typically use a product called "Fruit Sweet" (from Wax Orchards) in place of sugar in most of our other jam recipes and find it has as good or a better texture than sugar-sweetened jams/preserves, depending on the fruit.

    With certain hard-to-capture flavors -- like strawberry or pear -- where the flavors kinda evaporate during processing somehow, I find that macerating the fruit in the sweetener you're planning to use tends to lock in the flavor better than the box's instructions which have you just mix it all together and cook it at once.

  4. I think it is the melon - I've been using Pomona's to make all my jams for the 5-ish years I've been canning, and the only recipes I've not had set were a batch of watermelon jam and a batch of cantaloupe-vanilla jam. I think the ratios I've read (of 2 tsp pectin and 2 tsp calcium water) just don't work, or at least not for me. I'm planning to do another batch of cantaloupe jam soon, and experiment with adding more calcium water & pectin to see if it'll firm up better.


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