The official blog for Erika May Designs Handmade Jewelry. This blog is dedicated mainly to my jewelry, but will occasionally dabble in other crafts such as farming, cooking, art and hopefully soon, music!
Anyone interested in buying jewelry from me can either contact me here or go through my etsy store at http://www.etsy.com/shop/ErikaMayDesigns
Saturday, July 16, 2011
How to: Make Jam
At this point, I am an Oregonian. So when the end of spring rolls around I can't wait to get my summer on. One way to celbrate is with berries. Yes, fresh Oregon berries. Few places can compare to our strawberries that are full of flavor and have to be eaten as quick as possible because they will litterally disintegrate before your eyes. This spring was so horribly wet and cold that we didn't get any berries until July! All the while I was languishing think, worry, waiting about missing out on my fresh berries. Luckily I got let off work early one day and went out with my family to pick strawberries. Yup, u-pick farms are quite common in the Portland area, and its great! In half an hour three of us picked 14 lbs of beautiful, perfect strawberries and it only cost $16.75
So....what am I going to do with 14 lbs of strawberries? other than an orgy of strawberry related foodsits time for some fresh jam!
squish squish squish
I cleaned them and tossed a bunch in a big pot and gave my niece a chance to crush the bottom layer of berries. This year the berries were kinda sour because of all the rain. But its okay, because the high acid content make them store better and when they are a bit sour all the sugar in the jam balances out perfectly to make a not-to-sweet jam. I gently reduced the berries to inhance the flavor (normally you dont need to bother), then measured out the liquid once it was cooked (I had 5 cups). For this recipe it is equal parts sugar to equal parts berries so I poured in 5 cups sugar.
Supposedly its better if you heat the sugar before pouring it in, I never have had trouble using my cold sugar.
Many recipes say to add a tsp. of lemon juice per cup of fruit to raise the acidity and stability of your jam. I added a dash because it seemed a pretty high acid content already.
After adding the sugar I cook it gently until it get hot enough to jel (if you boil too hard it will destroy the natural pectin). I never use a thermometer, I just look at how it drops off the spoon and then test it coolded down on a plate. When it is jelled it falls off the side of the spoon in two globs, not one stream. Additionally, I rarely ever use commertal pectin. If you can process you fruit within 24 hours of picking it usually retains some of the natural pectin in the fruit, and if you want to borrow some pectin from another fruit go ahead and use apple peals-they are chock full of pectin! Just dont forget to fish them out later... When using the natural pectin you jam wont be as solid as store-bought jam, but i think its a bit to gloppy anyway.
Once the jam has jelled drop it into sterilized jars and process in hot water for the right time period for your recipe. (Mine was 10 minutes)
Awe gee...what to do with all these strawberries....?
Recipe for fruit leather:
Put your fruit in a small pot and heat to 190 degrees. After it is heated transfer to a blender and puree. For 1 cups of liquid add 1 tsp lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar. Spread 1/4 inch thick on a lined sheet pan (don't use wax paper! it will stick to the leather. Use either a silicon pad or plactic wrap) and leave in a vented oven at 140 degress until dry.