Hey everyone! It’s almost the end of January already! I can’t believe it. I’ve been really busy lately and haven’t had a lot of spare time on my hands. I really couldn’t figure out what to make for the blog this week from Back to Basics. I kept flipping through the book and nothing really jumped out at me until I got to the final recipe…
Homemade jam is something that SEEMS daunting but really is quite easy. I love it because you know exactly what is going into the jam and it makes great gifts. I know I’ve made it plenty of times, but I’ve always used sure-jell to get the jam to set. Sure-jell is powdered pectin that you can get from the store and mix with sugar and fruit to create jam. In true Ina style, her recipe in Back to Basics doesn’t call for sure-jell. She mentions that pectin is a natural jelling agent that is found in fruit. According to my research, some fruits have more pectin than others. Firmer fruits like apples, pears, plums, and citrus fruits contain the most pectin while softer fruits like berries contain little. In Ina’s recipe, she includes a little bit of apple to help the fruit gel. You’ll want to dice the apple very finely so most of it will melt into the jam. The finer the better. You could even grate it if you want.
I followed Ina’s instructions and utilized a candy thermometer to know when the jam would be done cooking. However, there is a great and easy way to test the “doneness” of your jam. Simply place a plate in the freezer while the jam is cooking. Once you get to around the 30 minute mark, it’ll look thick. Take the plate out of the freezer and drop a little bit of jam in the center. Let it sit for a few seconds and run your finger right through the middle of it. If you can turn the plate on its side and the jam doesn’t run down through where you ran your finger through it – it’s done! If not, let it go for another fiveish minutes and try again.
To add to the pectin level of the jam, I substituted the grand mariner in the recipe with freshly squeezed orange juice and added a little bit of the orange zest to add more flavor.
The best part of this recipe – it’s totally interchangeable. You can add/substitute really any berries in this and it will turn out great. Cut it in half if you want to only make a little bit. And for storage, you can seal them following canning instructions OR something I grew up on, just place them in the freezer. We called it freezer jam. It will stay good for months. Just take it out and let it to thaw in the refrigerator. It’s a great way to make the most of summer fruit or even seconds that you can get at a serious discount at the farmer’s market. They’re usually overripe and are perfect for jam. It’s also a great way to use up under-ripe store-bought fruit. Cooking it down concentrates the flavor.
The perfect vehicle for this is a homemade roll with a little dot of butter.
I encourage you to try making your own homemade jam, it is foolproof. You can totally do it!