Homemade jams: Basic notions for their preparation (Part I)
Making jam is a pleasure, and enjoying it is a real joy. The main process to prepare it is really simple, but there are many points that are important to know. That is why we have asked Virginia, author of Sweet&Sour , to tell us a little more about them, hoping that it will be of interest to you (* post updated in June 2018).
At the end of summer, fruits and vegetables abound at a good price, which make us throw ourselves into preparing homemade preserves, to all those who enjoy in the kitchen and with "home made" preparations.
Preparing jams at home is simple, but it is important to know a series of basic points that will help us ensure that our preserves have a pleasant texture and flavor, that they do not lose color, and that they last for a long time in the pantry without running unnecessary health risks.
Throughout two publications, we are going to examine, from the different varieties of preserves, through the basic ingredients and their preparation, to the sterilization of the jars, pasteurization and the emptying of their content.
Let's start at the beginning: We are used to calling jam practically all the preserves prepared from fruit and/or vegetables with sugar. However, they are not all jams, and they are not all the same. Let's see them:
I.- JAMS, JAM AND JELLIES:
Within the canned fruits and vegetables with sugar we basically find 3 types of preserves, jams, preserves and jellies.
Jam is understood as the preserve of fruit and/or vegetables previously chopped and macerated in sugar for a few hours, with an addition of sugar that is usually between 45% and 100% of the weight of the clean fruit.
The jams are cooked for a long time, until the fruit practically becomes a puree. It is advisable to stir the preparation often, to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan with so much sugar.
Beware, the English term "marmalade" is used only for citrus preserves.
(Left) Example of the texture of jam; (Right) Jelly example
Jams are prepared from whole fruit and sometimes also from chopped fruit, but instead of directly with sugar, with a syrup of about 250 ml of water per kilo of sugar, until a thick texture is achieved.
The jam is cooked for a shorter period of time, since in this case the fruit has to maintain a certain shape and consistency.
In short, the most visual difference between a jam and a jam is found in the texture. The jam comes to be a purée and in the jam we will find pieces of fruit, amen of course, of the different proportion of sugar and the different way of incorporating it into the fruit.
Jellies , on the other hand, are fluid and almost transparent preserves and are made with sugar and concentrated fruit juice. The tastiest are those made with fruit that contains a lot of pectin. Its use is basically as a dessert itself or for icing puff pastries and cakes, since it prevents the dough base from softening with the filling, and also helps, for example, the marzipan to adhere better.
To get a fruit juice, the small fruit blender is very useful, which will allow us to get the concentrated juice of the fruit.
II.- PREPARATION, INGREDIENTS AND THE POINT OF THE JAM
1.- For the preparation of fruit preserves, it is advisable to use the fruit at its exact point of ripeness, neither too green nor too ripe. In fact, very ripe fruit contains less pectin, a fundamental element in the preparation of this type of sweet preserves that allows its gelatinization due to the effect of heat.
Fruits must be washed well beforehand, especially if fruits with skin or shells that may contain pesticides are used. Washing must be done with great care not to damage them, so they do not lose their juices. In addition, we must dry them carefully so as not to add more water than is strictly necessary to the preserve. We must also discard the damaged parts or fruits, as they can spoil our jam or jam.
For stone fruits, such as cherries, it is most useful to use a good stoner ( I recommend Oxo's ), in addition to saving you time and keeping the fruit in its shape, it will prevent you from getting your hands too dirty.
Small fruit blender and cherry and olive stoner Oxo
2.- Sugar is a fundamental element, not only as a sweetener, but also as a preservative.
We must bear in mind that the fruit should never be cooked before the sugar has dissolved. That is why the fruit is allowed to macerate with the sugar so that it slowly dissolves in the jams. And in jams and jellies, sugar previously dissolved in water is incorporated, in the form of syrup or syrup.
The proportion depends a little on the type of preserve, the type of fruit and the taste, even the time we want to keep them, but it comes to an average of 700 gr to 1 Kg of sugar, per kilo of chopped and clean fruit.
Both white and brown cane sugar can be used. There is also special sugar for jams on the market, which incorporates pectin.
3.- Lemon is usually also a common ingredient, since in addition to helping conservation, it adds pectin and compensates for the lack of acidity of some fruits.
4.- Another fundamental element in the preparation of homemade jam is, as we have already seen, pectin, as a gelatinizing element: pectin is a natural substance that some fruits contain, to a greater or lesser extent, and that when cooked turns into a gelatin which makes the jam “set”.
The fruits that contain the most pectin are apples, quince, citrus fruits and red fruits such as currants or plums.
When a fruit does not contain pectin, there are several solutions, from combining it with other fruits that do contain this element, adding pectin in commercial preparations, and even including apple skins, seeds or cores in cheesecloth during cooking and then removing it.
Keep in mind that cooking for too long destroys the pectin. That is why it is not advisable to overcook our fruit preserves.
Another issue to keep in mind when preparing a fruit and sugar-based preserve is that with the heat of cooking, the preparation is much more liquid, and as it cools it densifies. Therefore, to know the point of the jam, that is, to know when the jam is ready and we can remove it from the heat, we must use a thermometer (you can see the ones we have here , although I especially recommend the Gefu digital thermometer , economical, precise and perfect for all types of food and preparations). The jam will be ready when it reaches a temperature of between 104º-105º C.
Another more homemade option, to verify the point of the jam if we do not have a thermometer , and which is usually infallible, is to put a small amount of the preparation that we are cooking on a cold plate, cool it quickly by putting it in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes. After this time, take out and push the jam with your finger, if it “wrinkles” and sticks to the plate it will be ready, otherwise it will have to be cooked longer.
Despite the fact that making our own preserves may seem more romantic by doing it with the most common method, on the fire and stirring, it is worth mentioning that today there is a really comfortable option and that many already take advantage of, and that is to prepare them with the bread maker . : many bread makers, or at least surely one of the most popular, which is the Moulinex bread maker , incorporate a program that is specific for jams. So, you put the ingredients (for example, fruit, sugar and lemon juice) into the pan of the breadmaker, press program button 15 (in the case of the Moulinex), and the breadmaker does the rest. There is a great advantage to this process, and that is that you don't have to worry about stirring: the blades of the bread maker stir the ingredients and ensure that they don't stick while the machine provides all the heat that the preparation needs.
Recipe for apricot jam in a Buyer saucepan , for the almond cake with jam
Finally, we must bear in mind that the preparation of sweet preserves must be done a few weeks before consumption, to give the ingredients time to settle their flavors.
For this, it will be important to store them in suitably sterilized jars or, if we are going to consume them in a short time, unless they have been vacuumed. This is what we will see in the second part that we will dedicate to preserves.
Finally, mention another tool that will be very useful to you, the funnel with a wide neck , perfect for pouring your jams into the jars.
For now and until next week, if you want to take note of some recipes to make your own jams, you can see the recipes of:
- Peach jam, in the recipe for almond sponge cake with jam
- Rhubarb and Banana Memelada with Citrus
If you are interested in making your own jams and preserves, there is a book that may interest you: From the garden to the pantry, by Mariano Bueno (here).
Regalos Gourmet said:
¡Muy buenas consideraciones sobre las mermeladas artesanales! Sin duda, estas variantes son excelentes por su sabor exquisito, menor cantidad de añadidos y beneficios nutritivos. Una vez que se prueban es imposible resistirse a ellas. En https://regalosgourmetonline.com/es/ las recomendamos totalmente frente a las más comercializadas.
Me gustaría hacer mermeladas muy naturales…si reemplazo el azúcar por Stevia gotitas, es recomendable? Le provoca algún cambio que no sea favorable para la preparación?
Y cuanto tiempo dura en conserva para vender?
Hola Maria Carmen, en el post de este próximo miércoles verás respuesta a tu comentario :) Saludos, hasta pronto, Claudia
Maria carmen said:
La explicacion me parece bien espero su comentario de como cerrar los botes de la mermelada y si despues los vuelven a cocer como lo hacian nuestras abuelas y yo. A la antigua usanza.