Mixed Berry & Peach Jam

Maria and I started off the first weekend of 2012 with a sleepover at her place friday night (pillowfights and all….just kidding) and on saturday, a full day of cooking and baking things that we’d talked about making in 2011 but never did. On the list: jam, panda bread, and pickles (posts to follow). January is probably not the best time to make jam, because pretty much no fruits are in season, but we resolved for so long to make it, we wanted to do it…even if it meant using frozen fruit and not pick-your-own fruit. So what’s the difference between jam and jelly? I have a dirty answer [that you can ask me in person] AND/OR I have an educational answer. Jam has chunks of fruit and jelly does not (strains it out).

Mixed Berry Jam Ingredients (makes 8 cups):

  • 1 pouch of Certo liquid fruit pectin
  • 4 cups strawberries –> 2 cups crushed strawberries
  • 4 cups blueberries (or raspberries or blackberries) –> 2 cups crushed blueberries
  • 7 cups sugar (yes…)

Peach Jam Ingredients (8 cups):

  • 1 pouch of Certo liquid fruit pectin
  • 6 cups peaches –> 4 cups finely chopped peaches
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 7.5 cups sugar

Supplies:

  • Glass jars and lids (we got ours at wal-mart)
  • Tongs (they have special ones for jam, but we used regular ones)
  • Wide-mouth funnel (special one for jam, got also at wal-mart)
  • 2 big pots

Measure out the fruit in their “whole” form. The amounts after the “–>” equal the amount you should have after crushing or chopping. To crush the berries, we used….a beer can (!!), which worked very well.

For the peaches, we chopped them into slivers and then pulsed them slightly through a food processor.

The most cumbersome part of making jam – in my opinion – is actually the sterilization process for the glass jars and lids. The jars have to be extremely clean and sterilized in order to preserve the jam, as well as make sure no icky stuff is in it. First, we ran the jars and lids in the dishwasher. Some people stop here, but we decided to make sure the jars were super clean. Basically, you find the biggest pot you have, boil water in it, and stick the jars and lids inside for the entire jam-making process. Hence the reason for tongs, so you can take them out and not burn yourself.

In a separate pot, prepare the fruit according to the above measurements – try to be as exact as possible. Stir in lemon juice (for the peach jam). Stir in sugar into the fruit and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred), stirring constantly. At the full boil, stir in the pectin quickly. Return to a full rolling boil and boil for exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with a metal spoon.

Luckily it was the two of us working together, because there’s too many things going on for just one person to do this next part. Using tongs, remove the jar from the boiling water pot. Empty out any residual water. Place the funnel on top of the jar and ladle the jam into the jar. Lift up the funnel and wipe the jar rims for any excess jam. Using tongs, place the lid on the jar and then screw on the final part of the lid.

Let the jam stand at room temperature for 24 hours. What’s fun to listen to is the lids popping in/down as the jam cools and sets. Label and give away to your bestest friends.

Best served with a warm, flaky croissant. YUM. Good for at least 6 months (probably a year), but you’ll be done devouring it way before then.

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