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Jams, Jellies & Preserves: Troubleshooting & Tips


maxmillan
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A friend gave me a jar of TJ's Ginger Spread which I have shared with enthusiastic friends.  Now I read that TJ no longer carries this product. 

I have tried googling a recipe for ginger spread but have found nothing so far.

Any help out there for ginger aficianados?  :unsure:

Apparently "The Ginger People" make a ginger spread that lists the same ingredients.

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Used a bottle of commercial black currant juice to make jam. Discovered it needs 100% more sugar than any other fruit I've preserved including raspberries. Thank goodness the SureGel people include a reprocessing step on their package insert. Didnt need more gel, but desperately needed more sweet! As it stands (perfect), its lovely and puckery.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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  • 4 months later...

You can save that foam. It should settle out into a syrup once it's cooled, a lovely fruity syrup you can put over pancakes, ice cream, etc.

"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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Most of my jam recipes call for skimming the scum when you boil the fruit and syrup. I'm opposed to skimming, but I'm curious why this is done. Is it for aesthetic reasons or something different?

Thanks.

I just realized that I had a typo - I meant to write that I am not opposed to skimming. :) I'm just curious what purpose it serves.

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... I meant to write that I am not opposed to skimming. :) I'm just curious what purpose it serves.

Its mainly an appearance thing - presenting an attractive surface on opening the jar.

There's nothing whatsoever 'wrong' with the skimmings. They are usually "cook's perks". Tasty and harmless (once cool!)

But from the preservation standpoint, I think its better to have a properly smooth top surface so that your wax or (especially) waxed paper can sit tight to the surface (and exclude air beneath it). Froth doesn't help you to close the surface, so if the froth is left in place the jam might not store as well or as long.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I bought Christine Ferber's Mes Confitures over the winter, and have finally gotten the chance to start using it! I started with her (3-day) Rhubarb and Whole Strawberry jam :wub:

Now, when I read her instructions at the beginning of the book, she said that when she preserves, after filling and lidding the jars, she sets them upside down while they cool. I have always preserved with jars upright, but though I'd give it a whirl since if anyone is going to know how to do this stuff right, I assume that it is her! So I did. But now I'm worried about whether the jars sealed ... I *think* they did, but thought I would double-check whether my thought process is accurate...

1- I didn't hear the jars "pop" when they sealed - but, given that the jam is directly on top of the lid, it probably wasn't able to make the popping noise?

2- The lids don't "bounce" when I push on them (as an unsealed lid does) - the top does not move at all when I push on it (I take this as a "yes, it's sealed" sign)

3- I can't pull the lids off by hand when I try (again, a "yes, it's sealed" sign?)

4- When I opened one of the the jars as a test, it didn't pop when I got the top off. Now, granted, the jam is still stuck to the top of the lid (there's airspace at the bottom of the jar and I can't make the jam fall down there! :) ) but I wonder whether that means it in fact hasn't sealed? There was also a bit of jam on the seal itself, which was most definitely not there when I put the jam in there.

So, has anyone done the jars-upside-down preserving? Do your sealed jars turn out like mine did? Think I can eat this stuff without worrying about botulism?

Thanks for your help!

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... Think I can eat this stuff without worrying about botulism?

Yes!

Botulism doesn't like acid (as from the rhubarb). Making pectin set your jams and jellies needs a bit of acid - frequently from added lemon juice.

But in the normal run of things, its actually shortage of oxygen (air) - not its entry - that encourages botulism.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I've never turned jars upside down to cool, but it sounds like your jars have sealed properly. The best way to tell, assuming you're using two-piece lids, is to remove the screwband and try picking them up by the lid. If you can do so without the lid coming off, then they've sealed fine. (Edited to add: You might want to do this over a soft surface, just in case the seal breaks and the jar falls.)

From my perspective, the biggest problem is the jam on the seals. That sounds like a potential point of entry for mold, and even if it hasn't ruined the seal yet, it may still do so. I'd check all the jars now (and any that haven't sealed, you can store in the fridge), and then check them again before opening each one to make sure the seal is still intact.

Edited by mkayahara (log)

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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From my perspective, the biggest problem is the jam on the seals. That sounds like a potential point of entry for mold, and even if it hasn't ruined the seal yet, it may still do so. I'd check all the jars now (and any that haven't sealed, you can store in the fridge), and then check them again before opening each one to make sure the seal is still intact.

Hence the reason wifey and I use alcohol swabs from the medicine cabinets on jar lips.

I have 4 lbs of fresh strawberries to process. It will be a busy day tomorrow!

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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Thanks for the help, everyone! I've wasted no time digging into the jam, and it is quite decadent. :biggrin: There was no mold on the one I opened, but will check the others - good point, Mkayahara

Will probably go back to sealing the way I had been before, but good to know that three days of working over a hot stove isn't going to go down the drain (literally)! And my rhubarb source (who provides on the understanding that he gets some of whatever I make) will no doubt be just as happy...which means in 3 weeks when his plants have grown back, I get a crack at take 2 of the jam. Think it will be her rhubarb, honey, and rosemary one this time...

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This one of my favorite recipes from Ferber's book. A few of the recipes in the book seem to have lost something in translation (or just suffer from poor editing), and this is one of them.

She says the jam takes three days, but it actually takes four, unless I'm missing something.

Day 1: Begin to macerate strawberries in sugar.

Day 2: Strain syrup, boil it, and then return it to the strawberries.

Day 3: Here's where it gets weird (I don't have the book in front of me, so I may have a few words wrong). She says something like "boil the syrup five times. Strain the syrup, boil it, and return it to the strawberries. Do this four more times at 8 hour intervals." The wording here is awkward. Plus, boiling five times at eight hour intervals puts you in the middle of day 4. Nothing wrong with that, but I've never been clear about whether I've misunderstood the directions.

Then she says the rhubarb must be started at the same time as the strawberries since it also needs to macerate in sugar overnight. Well, presumably she doesn't mean to start it on Day 1, but on Day 3.

Then, in the middle of Day 4, you mix the strawberries and rhubarb, check the set, etc. and can them.

They turn out great and are one of the few recipes I've done without pectin that actually set really nice.

MissMegan - to answer your question about turning over the jars, rather than processing them. A lot of people do it this way. The USDA and most sources I've consulted recommend processing in a water bath, rather than simply turning the jars over. I tend to process all of Ferber's jams for 10 minutes, just to be safe. But when I made the strawberry-rhubarb jam last month, I ended up with two much and didn't have room in the water bath for my last two jars. So I turned them upside down, just to see how this works. The jars are definitely sealed.

Edited by Darren72 (log)
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Darren72 - You're right! The directions are indeed a bit off. I'm glad that you thought so too, I was convinced it was me. :smile:

I wound up doing the boil 5 times / wait 8 hrs thing only four times in total, rather than five - I had places to be! And the bit about starting the rhubarb the same day as the strawberry mixture, after reading it a few times I thought maybe they meant when we start doing the boil/wait dance. Otherwise, it makes absolutely no sense. At best, it's just poorly worded.

I think I cooked mine a bit long, as it set a little more than I had intended. It's spreadable, but needs a wee bit of encouragement to do so.

Full disclosure: I have actually *never* used a water bath - though recently purchased one at a garage sale for a full $3. I've only canned jams, jellies, and antipasto. Why, when I've never had issues with jars sealing, would I want to use one? I sterilize the jars and equipment before using anything, and my understanding is that the water bath is used to sterilize...is this the case? I've always wondered...

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  • 11 years later...

Bumping this ancient topic -- wondering if anyone has a preferred pectin/method for jam that will be frozen?

 

We are about to acquire an absurd quantity of peaches, and in addition to freezing some in slices, I'd like to make some jam. It'll be a fairly small quantity and I figure it will be easier to freeze than can.

 

I see there's a Ball pectin for no-cook freezer jams, but I also see a lot of freezer jam recipes that cook the pectin prior to adding it to the fruit.

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Personally I don't see much sense in using pectin for peach jam. Neither for freezing it, canning is less of a hassle.

 

If you do it right, peach jam is pretty thick, really no need for pectin unless you want to end with a brick.
To do a jam you need to cook it, so canning it takes just the time to pour it in the jars, close the lids, turn upside down and keep them upside down for 30 minutes to be sure. Jams don't have the same dangers as other preserves, you do not pressure canning for safety precautions. You just need pasteurization. Start from hot jars, to do so you can put them in the oven at 120° C / 250 F, or heat them in the microwave, your goal is for them to reach around 100° C / 212 F. Jars need to be hot when you pour the jam in them, so you need the correct timing. After pouring the jam in the jars, close them with lids (well washed, no need to heat them) and turn the jars upside down. Keep them upside down for 30 minutes or a bit more. Keeping them upside down will pasteurize the lids. If the jars are closed properly you won't risk anything. Since you are going to pour the jam in the jars anyway (even if you freeze it) then there is not much sense to choose the freezer way, it's wasted money (electricity to run the freezer) and wasted quality (freezing it will cause a quality loss).

 

To make peach jam I use this method:
- peel the peaches, cut them in half to eliminate the stone, cut the pulp in small dices (5 mm / 1/4 in)
- weigh the peach pieces, add 60% sugar, mix gently with a spatula
- cook until they reach a boil, turn off the heat and leave undisturbed for about 12-24 hours
- cook the jam to 105° C / 221 F and pour it in the jars.
The cooking in 2 stages is for osmotic reasons, the sugar syrup will penetrate the peach pieces, the result will be peach pieces that are semi-candied, dispersed in the thickened syrup.

 

 

 

Teo

 

  • Thanks 2

Teo

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