Friday, August 21, 2009

We Be Jammin'

Well Preserved by Joan Hassol
175 Best Jams, Jellies, Marmalades & Other Soft Spreads by Linda J. Amendt

These are my two favorite jamming books. Both available from the Brown County Library. (In fact, if you look closely you can see the one of the left IS a library book.) I own two others, but these are the best.

Why do I like them? Well, they both rely on commercial pectin and I appreciate the low-work, no-fail results you get with products like Certo and Sure-Jell.

Second, both books push the 'Strawberry-Rhubarb' envelope with fun new combinations that incorporate ingredients like preserved ginger, citrus, vanilla bean, spices and liqueurs.

Using these books last year, I made pear & Frangelico, cranberry jalepeno, peach brandy, raspberry rum, and blueberry lemon in addition to more traditional flavors, currant and elderberry. (Wow, that was kind of a lot!)

Would love to learn to make more artisan-style jams without commercial pectin, but I want a personal teacher for that. Every time I try, it's a failure and I hate to waste all that fruit. Sure, it makes good pancake topping, but there's something about failed jam that just doesn't say 'Merry Christmas' to me. (You didn't think I was eating all that jam by myself, did you?)

I've also done some experimenting with Pomona's Pectin, 'cause you can cut the sugar way way down, but that too can lead to failure if you don't have the right recipe. I started keeping a jam log last year so I can start to learn and experiment rather than just following a recipe all the time.

Anyone know of an artisan jam class in Wisconsin?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jaime,
    Jelly and Jam are like candy - best made on bright clear days with High atmospheric pressure. Last year I made hot pepper jelly with only my own apple juice and sugar. JOY OF COOKING has a great explanation on pectin and how to test for it. Longer cooking and using a sheeting test or a really cold plate from the freezer to see if the jelly or jam will set is one test. Most jelly needs to be cooked to 220 using a candy thermometer. My grandmother always made jelly and jam and seldom used any pectin so it is quite possible. And again JOY OF COOKING (a required kitchen cookbook) it has a good explanation on jelly making which is just as complicated as good candy making. Plus get a copy of PRESERVING NATURES BOUNTY by F. Bissell - great book on just the kind of jams and jellies you want to make. Check out THE VEGETABLE GARDEN this week to see my crab apple Rose Water Jelly.
    Happy Gardening