Friday, August 07, 2009
Jammin'-Sorry, I couldn't think of a better pun title
Ok. So I know I have been a bit of a bad blogger. I have neglected this blog, and really its been making me sad. I really started to miss the look of new posts every couple of days. Like I said before, AP classes are insane and I am not even in the school year yet! Well, not technically true as I am taking AP art history online right now. I just got caught up with that so I decided I would reward myself with finishing up my blog posts. I know kind of more work, but its a labor of love.
Anyways, long story short: this post was written almost a month ago! July 9th to be exact. So when I say today I don't really mean it. It's just taken me this long to find the time to get the pictures all prettied up and then on to Flickr and then on to here. So, basically, keep that in mind if something comes off weird. I also have the butter cake post on queue ready to be posted tomorrow. I want to give this one a little room at the top before I bump it down. Also I did make puff pastry, but unfortunately that post will not be coming to fruition. I made it and it just wasn't blog material, and I am not confident enough with it anyways. Instead I will be posting a recipe on Espresso Panna Cotta and some super delicious cupcakes. I promise, because you see if I take a picture of it I will be doing a post on it.
Thanks for Reading, and sticking through no updates,
Today I decided to make jam. And preserve it too. For anyone who isn't aware, jamming (as in the process of making jam) and preserving are NOT the same. Yes, they usually go hand in hand, but they are not one in the same. Jam making is simply cooking fruit down and thickening it, that may or may not use pectin. The different types of jam ( jelly, preserves, compotes, marmalades, jam, etc.) are determined by what part of the fruit is left in the jam (which is what we will call any thickened fruit spread).
Preserving is the act of taking the jam and putting it in sterilized containers and then processing until sterile and vacuum sealed. This makes the product (hopefully) shelf-stable and being able to open up the jar 6 months down the road, preserving that fresh fruit flavor in the middle of winter. For the speciality utensils like a jar tongs, canning funnel and lid lifter I found a pack from Ball brand that came with all the utensils except a canning rack. It was 6 dollars at Wal-Mart in their seasonal section. You could also go down to your local old-fashioned hardware store, like Ace Hardware, and find all of the utensils, jars and lids.
You can make jam, jelly or the like with out the some-what hassle of preserving and as long as you keep it in the fridge and eat it within 2-3 weeks. Of course, even if you open a preserved jar of jam, it must go in the fridge.
I chose to start with a spiced blueberry jam(and yes jam as in seedy, pulpy spread). It seems a little daunting for a first bout in jam making, but it came with a detailed video how-to that I thought would be a must for a semi-complicated process. I will link to it in the recipe.
The recipe uses pectin so it is quicker to make than jam that the pectin in the fruit has to naturally develop. Also because of this, the jam retains a fresher fruit flavor. This recipe also uses frozen blueberries. I would use wild, as they are more flavorful but they can be more expensive and harder to find. I didn't use wild, and it was still delicious. The jam is just slightly spiced, and its not overwhelming. It just makes the jam have a subtle complexity.
For the pectin, it is powdered. You can usually find pectin near the gelatin in the grocery store. It comes in a 1.75 oz box no matter what brand you use. And you use the whole box, no need to measure.
Spiced Blueberry Jam
Adapted from Alton Brown (My Adaptations are in Italics)
Large stockpot or canning kettle
Jar rack or cake cooling rack (I had neither so I used a kitchen towel on the bottom, it will work in a pinch)
6 (8-ounce) Mason style preserving jars with lids and bands
Wide mouth canning funnel
Canning tongs (specially made for snatching jars in and out of very hot situations)
Large (8-ounce) ladle
Paper towels or dishtowels
Magnetized "lid-wand" or magnet tool from hardware store (optional)
2 (12-ounce) bags frozen blueberries
One (1 3/4-ounce) packet dry pectin
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
For the jam:
Place blueberries in saucepan over medium-low heat. Sprinkle with pectin followed by the anise, nutmeg, lemon juice and vinegar. Once liquid starts to gather in bottom of pan, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Lower heat slightly and boil gently for five minutes occasionally mashing mixture. Mash in sugar, add the water and return to a boil for 1 minute. You just made jam. Cool, jar, refrigerate and enjoy within 2 weeks. Or, move to the preserving phase.
Preserving the jam:
Thoroughly wash all hardware in hot soapy water. Then pile everything (excluding the jar lids) into the pot. Cover with hot water by at least 1-inch and bring to a boil and maintain for 10 full minutes to sterilize. Turn off the heat, wait 5 minutes then add the lids (waiting will insure that the sealing compound does not melt). Leave all hardware in the pot until you're ready to can.
Remove the ladle, tongs, funnel and other tools from the pot, (careful please, it's hot in there) to a clean towel or paper towels. Using the jar tongs, remove and drain the jars, placing them on the towel/paper towel surface. (Avoid rock or metal surfaces which could result in thermal shock and breakage.)
Place the funnel in the first jar (pick it up by the ring, avoiding the sterile interior.) Use the ladle to fill each jar just to the bottom of the funnel, about 1/3-inch from the bottom of the jar threads. This "headspace" is necessary for the jars to seal during processing.
Wipe the jar rims with a moist paper towel, checking for any cracks or irregularities as you go. Use the magnetized device of your choice to position lids on each jar. Screw the rings on finger tight. (Remember, the rings don't seal the jars they only hold the lids in place. Heat will drive out the headspace air, which when cooled will create a vacuum, thus sealing the jars)
Return the jars to the pot being certain that they don't touch the bottom of the pot or each other. (If you don't have a jar rack, try a round cake rack, or metal mesh basket. Even a folded kitchen towel on the pot bottom will do in a pinch.) Add additional water if necessary to cover the jars by at least an inch, and bring to a hard boil over high heat according to the table below. (Be sure not to start your timer until a true boil is reached. The headroom air may bubble out of the jars before a boil is reached. Don't be fooled.)
Here is the handy dandy link to that video. Part 1 is linked but just look next to the video on YouTube. (I think we all know how that works =]) Part 2 should be linked. This is thanks to Mr. Alton Brown, which on this topic I think is very effective at explaining. Video
Processing times: Within 1,000 feet of sea level: 5 minutes
1,000 -- 3,000 feet above sea level: 10 minutes
3,001- 6,000 feet above sea level: 15 minutes
6,000 -- 8,000 feet above sea level: 20 minutes