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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Home-made Jam..or is it?

I have had recent rave reviews for my home-made jam and while it is made at home, I do use a machine to help me get it to the perfect bottle of goodness that has been commended.  I was not long ago that I discovered that my Breadmaker has a jam setting and I saw it fit to make some jam to go along with the fresh bread I was making regularly.  While this is a bit of a cheat it works for me, but there is the tried and tested method of using a stovetop that is available to everyone.  The trick here is to maintain the level of heat to enable the sugars and pectin combine evenly without burning or crystallising.  I have also found another cheat that is a little more accessible than a breadmaker – an electric frypan.  Both methods require you to stay around the cooking pot or pan so if you have other kitchen related duties to do then now is the time.  Do not venture further than a couple of arm’s reach of your cooking jam.   
Ingredients to make 2 x 200g jars
500g Fruit of choice (you can do half and half if desired) – Note this measurement is after you have cut the fruit and removed any skin or seeds
1 ½ to 1 2/3 of Caster Sugar
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 Teaspoons Jam Setta (Pectin) ($2.00 at supermarkets in the baking goods aisles)
I make my jam in a Breadmaker now – it does all the stirring and heating  
If you have an electric frying pan this is also good because you can maintain a steady heat but you have to stir. 
Otherwise use a heavy pot on low-medium heat
For the electric frypan and stove method you will need a candy thermometer to keep an eye on the heat.  My jam cooks best at under 93 degrees celcius.
I will give the directions for electric frypan and stove top as different breadmakers have different settings (and not everyone has a breadmaker).
Place all ingredients into a cold pot/pan and begin to warm on lowest setting.
Allow 10 minutes then slowly increase the heat to medium.
Stir a couple of times to evenly distribute and prevent sticking.
Measure mixture temperature regularly and increase or reduce heat accordingly until it reaches 93 degrees
You will need to stir it very frequently as this is action is what gets the sugars and pectin working together to become jam
The heating and stirring process continues for up to 1 hour depending on the consistency of your jam.
By about 45-50 minutes it should look glossy and will still be runny
In the last 5-10 minutes increase your heat slightly to allow the jam to gently bubble.  Do not allow it to boil as the sugar will caramelise or worse, burn.
Pour immediately into sterilised glass jars and cover with a piece of baking paper before screwing on the lid
Allow the jam to cool overnight and it will thicken to its right consistency.

The continual stirring is essential.  The consistency will not be right otherwise. At least stir for 20 seconds every minute.   
Use a silicon spatula as this will prevent scraping the bottom of the pan if there is any mixture that has caught.
Have your sterilised jars ready to fill by the 45th minute of the cooking process.  If at any time the consistency looks right (glossy and runny) then increase the heat for a minute or two and fill your jars.
A digital thermometer is recommended to keep the heat accurate.
Home-made jams will differ based on the pectin level of the fruit and fructose (natural sugars)    
Jam ideas:
·         Marmalades (Orange, Lemon, Lime)
·         Kiwifruit & Pineapple (Golden Kiwifruit is best)
·         Apple, Rhubarb & Raspberry
·         Peach & Mango

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