We have such amazing fruit available this time of year. So many of the seasons are short. Apricots, for example, seem to come and go so quickly. A great way to capture some of these summer fruits to enjoy later is to make jam.
The first time I had really good jam was at my Belgian Grandmother Anne-Marie’s house. You could eat it by itself, not like the overly sweet jams I had eaten in the United States. I have been making jam now for over 30 years. I do not use any pectin. The method is to macerate your fruit with the sugar overnight, drain the fruit, cook the syrup first, and then add the fruit and continue cooking.
Jam is simple to make if you follow some easy guidelines :
1. Use organic perfect fruit (do not use the old strawberries at the back of the fridge that you forgot about ! Put them in your compost)
2. Taste your fruit . If it is very sweet, add a little less sugar.
3. 1500 g (about 1 flat) of fruit yields about 11 8-oz jars of jam
You will need 2 large pots, one heavy (as in All-Clad or copper ), plus a smaller pot for you lids
Tongs, funnel and ladle for putting jam in jars
Large basin or hotel pan to macerate your fruit
Jam jars with new lids (you cannot use lids that have been used already)
Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, or apricots (I highly recommend local and organic fruit)
1/3 less organic evaporated cane sugar
(ex: if you have 1500 grams of fruit , you will need 1000 g of sugar)
Lemon juice for strawberry and blueberry ( 1 lemon for every 500 grams of fruit)
Layer the fruit alternately in thirds in a large basin, starting with the fruit, and ending with the sugar
Cover and let sit on the counter overnight
Drain the juice
Put juice in a heavy large pot (the jam will rise, so you need room)
At the same time put your jam jars (minus the tops) in another pot and fill with water until jars are completely covered
Put the tops in their own pot (it is easier in to get them out when you need them) and fill with water until tops are completely covered
Put all pots on high heat
When jars and tops begin to boil, turn down to simmer
Cook juice on high heat, it until reaches 109-112 C (blow stage) on a candy thermometer ( you do not need to stir the jam at this point unless it rises too high in your pan)
Add the fruit
Stir CONSTANTLY ! You will easily burn your jam . Make sure to use a nice wooden spoon and get the entire bottom of the pan.
Put on long gloves !
It will start to get scary towards the end. The jam will start spitting, and it is HOT ! I know this for a fact. I recently spent some time in the emergency room after I spilled boiling hot jam on my arm. It is not pretty ! (although, the morphine was amazing ! )
Finished apricot jam
You will know your jam is done by putting it on a cold plate, wait a couple minutes and turn the plate. It should drip very slowly.
The one on the left is done
Working quickly place your jars, lids, and jam on a work table Put 4 jams jars upside-down on some paper towels
Ready to put jam in jars
Fill the 4 jars with the jam, put the lids on tightly, turn jars upside down, then right-side up to sterilize the air inside. Set aside
Continue until all the jam is gone
Label with the date, and flavor. You can also go a little crazy like we do.
Jam lasts for a year.