MY FAVORITE BASIC JAM
I have always loved to make jam or preserves. I began testing different recipes and suggestions and have found the following basic recipe a wonderful guide. You do not need to use pectin if you combine some unripe fruit pieces with the riper fruit. This is great for windfalls where you have to cut the bruised portions off.
Fundamentally you use ¾ cup sugar to each 1 cup of chopped fresh fruit. So you can make any sized quantity. If fruit is very sweet, you can cut back a bit on the sugar and add lemon juice—usually about 1 teaspoon per cup of fruit or to taste.
Yield: 6 to 8, 8 ounce jars of jam
6 cups fresh fruit such as chopped peaches
4 ½ cups sugar
- Using a deep, heavy bottomed kettle, place the fruit and sugar in the kettle; and bring to a rapid boil, stirring frequently. When the boil starts to settle down to smaller bubbles and the mixture is visibly thicker and making large bubbles as it boils, test for doneness either with a thermometer or the sheet test. With the thermometer, jams are done when they cook to a temperature of 7 degrees above boiling. For the sheet test, using a large metal spoon, dip the spoon into the mixture and hold vertical to the surface of the jam, tilting the bottom of the spoon back a bit. If the mixture sheets off due to the two drops on either side of the spoon joining together and sheeting off, then it is done. A second test is to use a small white or light colored plate and place some drops on the plate. Tilt vertically and if the mixture slowly rolls down in long droplets, the jam is done. On the other hand if the mixture runs down, it needs more cooking.
- Set the mixture aside and meanwhile place 8, 8 ounce jelly jars upside down in a large pan such as a 9 x 13 cake pan with one inch of water in the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and allow to boil until jam is ready to place in jars. At least five minutes of boiling is needed to prevent bacteria. Meanwhile, stir the jelly and if it has cooled a bit and the pieces of fruit stay suspended in the mixture, you are ready to jar the jam. To do so, using a canning funnel, place jam in jars to within one inch of the top of the jar. Then, dipping a clean cloth in the hot water, use it to clean out the inside of the jar and rub around the top. Dip the lid in the hot water and place rubber side down on the jar and tighten a jar ring as tight as it will go. Set aside on a clean towel. After a few minutes, double check the jars to make sure the rings are as tight as they can be. Label and store in a dark place and enjoy!