Friday, November 22, 2013

Our Jams & Jellies

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We are making jams and jellies from our own hand picked, vine and tree ripened, organically grown fruit! We don't add any filler or chemicals to it. It's hard to beat!

So far we have made three types of peach jam: chunky white peach, regular peach jam with small bits in it and smooth peach jam run through the blender. All of them turned out beautifully!  

Next on the list to make is apple jelly from our organic Red Delicious apples, all tree ripened and hand picked after the frost when they are at their sweetest!

After the apple jelly is finished, we will be processing the grapes. They are in the freezer now. Freezing the fruit first helps to break down the cell walls and release the juice. It makes a big difference.

We don't make freezer jam, even though it is slightly superior to cooked jam, because we use it for gifts and gift baskets.
Here are a few tips to help you get started making your own jams and jellies successfully.  

  • Use only organically grown, tree or vine ripened fruit.
  • Make sure everything is sterile if you want it to keep a long time.
  • Process the full 10 minutes in a water bath if you want it to keep a long time.
  • Boil the fruit/sugar/lemon juice mix until it reaches at least 200 degrees farenheit (at least 10 mins) then put in the pectin and boil hard another full minute. I aim for 210 but it can sometimes take a heat on high to reach it. Sometimes I give up and just stop at 203f, when I'm sure it has cooked long enough. If it's soft, then so be it. As long as it's not runny, I'm happy. 
  • Always add pectin. Powdered pectin usually works better than liquid. Use the "low sugar" pectin powder, even if you plan to add the regular amounts of sugar. It just works better. It's more money but it makes more too.
  • Don't enlarge the recipe. Just make a one-box-of-pectin sized batch at a time. If you double it, it may not gel. (I doesn't make sense but that's the way it is.) One box makes about 4 pint jars.
  • Add 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice to any recipe, whether it calls for it or not. It can't hurt and the extra acid will help it gel and stay fresh longer. It also keeps the fruit from darkening while processing and gives the flavour a boost. Just add a bit more sugar and sweeten to taste after adding the lemon juice. 
  • It can take half again as much sugar to make jelly from the small, very tart, wild things like wild blueberries, crabapples or choke cherries, but the flavour is hard to beat. 
  • Make sure all the jars have sealed after processing and remove the rings for long term storage.
  • Keep your finished jams and jellies in a cool, dark place.
I hope these tips will be helpful for those of you who plan to buy or grow organic fruit next summer and turn it into jams and jellies. It's a fun and rewarding way to preserve nature's bounty! 

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