Sunday, April 10, 2011

JOT #14: jam and marmalade

I recently bought my first jar of jam in a few years - it's a hot sweet pepper made of local mixed berries with jalapenos, straight from the farmer's market. Yum.

Aside from that, we haven't had jam or marmalade from outside the house in quite a while. When apple season rolled around, I made a giant batch of apple jam, several jars. When friends had way too many lemons, I made marmalade. And with all those neighborly oranges, I've made a bitter-sweet orange marmalade. When thanksgiving rolls around, there are cranberries available, which make a delicious sweet-tart cranberry jam. Makes for plenty of sweet spreads.

Making jam needs a good half day per batch (which, for us, yields months, if not a year's, worth of jam). It's a bit time and work intensive, but modern devices like the food processor and other shortcuts make it easy. I also avoid the intense canning steps, because there's sugar in the jam, we use it fairly fast (or give it away for use), and store it in the fridge after opening. Someday I'd like to learn to can properly, complete with rubber lids and metal bands, but that will have to wait. For now, we can store our jam on the shelf and then in the fridge or freezer for a while before I have to make up a new batch, when another fruit comes into season.

These recipes are collected from various ones you'll find on the internet, adapted to all those different fruits you'll find, and made to be as little work as possible (I'm lazy!). The caveat: jam is really fruit and sugar, so it's not really a health food. Some day I'd like to make up a batch of freezer jam without adding any sugar, but not yet.

Lemon or Orange Marmalade
5lbs lemons or oranges (about 10 navels)
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups extra sugar (optional)

Juice the fruit and save 1/2 cup juice (drink or save or freeze the rest) and all the peels, being sure to discard any seeds. Run peels through food processor or slice into very thin strips. Place peels in saucepan and cover with water. Boil 10 minutes, or until softened, then drain. Rinse pan and return peels to pan. Add 1 1/2 cups water and sugar and simmer one hour uncovered, stirring, until thick and creamy. Add up to 1 1/2 cups extra sugar, to taste. Add 1/2 cup juice, stir to combine well, and let cool. Pour into sterilized jars almost to top (leaving less than 1/2 inch). Seal jars and invert until fully cooled. Once opened, store in fridge and use within a week.

Apple Jam - posted ages ago. Recipe here.

Cranberry Jam
cranberries (about 1 packet/ 1lb)
 1 1/2 cups sugar
juice of one lemon or orange

Rinse cranberries (if frozen, skip this step). Heat cranberries, adding a little water if necessary, and stir on low, mashing, until softened. Add sugar and continue to stir, partially covered in between, until well-mashed and thick. Add lemon juice (use orange juice for orange-cranberry flavor). Cool jam until warm, then pour into sterilized bottle leaving 1/2 inch room at the top. Close and invert bottle overnight. Store away from light upside down or open and refrigerate.

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