Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Jellies & Jams.

Jelly and Jam making can be fun and quite tasty. They are both similar and different in their processes for making the finished product.  Today's blog will not be a full in-depth course in making jelly and jam but a good introduction.

There are already a couple of recipes on the blog.  One is for Apple Butter (V).  Another is for Green & Red Pepper Jelly (V).  The green & red pepper jelly gives you both a different heat level and color for presentation.

Let's get on with jelly and jam making.  Starting with equipment, you'll need heavy stainless steel pots or kettles.  They will need to be size appropriate to the batch size you will be making.  It would help to have a scale, candy thermometer, ladle, funnel, canning jars (1/4 pint, 1/2 pint & maybe pint) and proper lids.
I use paraffin wax to seal my jars.  That was how I was taught by my mother and grandmothers.  Some people today don't believe this method to be the safest way and suggest canning lids, filling jars almost full and doing water baths for jams (jelly doesn't need one).  You can go whichever way you feel most comfortable.  You do need to be careful when melting the wax.  It is flammable so you need to pay attention.  I've never encountered a problem or even heard of anyone who has either.  You do need to keep them in a cool dark place.  If it gets too hot the wax will have a problem.
Another piece of equipment you may want is a jelly bag and stand for your jelly making.  If you don't have one, cheesecloth, a colander and a stainless steel bowl will work just fine.
In making jelly, you need to extract the juice from the fruit (reason for paragraph above).  You then combine sugar (amount depends on the fruit) and another ingredient or two depending on type of jelly you're making.
Jams use fruit pulp instead of juice.  This makes a thicker heavier spread.  It still takes sugar and a few other ingredients again depending on what fruit you are working with in the recipe.
You need to be a little more hands on with jams.  They can stick, scorch or burn easier than jellies.  So you need to stir more and watch your pot.
Measurements need to be accurate when making both jelly and jam.  Some say that recipes should be for no larger of a batch than to fill 4 half-pint jars.  I usually double that amount and have not had any problems once again.
It also helps to be organized and start early (especially with jelly) when making these types of recipes.
This week the 2 recipes are for "Rhubarb-Cherry Jam" and "Apple Jelly."  The rhubarb-cherry one is a favorite of mine.  Well enjoy trying one of these or the ones mentioned at the start of this blog.  "Happy Cooking" until next week.

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