Monday, August 16, 2010

DIY: Homemade Jam

I love jam! I love it on toast, on scones, in greek yogurt, on biscuits, and anything I can put the gooey goodness onto! But I've never tried to make any homemade jam before, and I decided to try it out at work the other day (I'm a nanny in the summer). And it turned out great!

There are a ton of great recipes all over the net for making your own jam. My favorite has been from one of my favorite blogs, 100 Layer Cake.

Here's my recipe that I made:

  • 5 c. raspberries, 5 c. blackberries (or 10 c. of whichever fruit you pick) *Note: It's ok if you have a little less than exactly 10 c. of fruit
  • 4-5 c. sugar or 2.5 c. Splenda Blend
  • 1.5 pkg fruit pectin (Certo or SureJell)
  • 1 lemon, fresh
  • Optional: Spices to spice your jam, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, ginger, or nutmeg

For the sugar I decided to substitute pure sugar with Splenda Sugar Blend (half sugar, half splenda). Apparently you can even substitute honey for sugar. Fruit pectin is usually sold in any grocery store near the jello and baking sections. In my grocery store it was near the mason jars, which I didn’t even know was sold there!

First things first, you need to decide what kind of jam you want to make. I live in southern New Jersey and it is berry season here! I decided to stop by one of the local farmer’s markets and I bought 3 cartons of blackberries and 3 cartons of raspberries to make enough jam to fill a dozen 4oz jars. I suggest that if you don’t have access to a farmer’s or produce market that you try buying frozen berries and thawing them out, I have had success in the past making a raspberry dip this way when the fruit was out of season.

Once you have your berries and other ingredients, rinse them off and begin to mash them in a large bowl. It’s easier to mash a small amount of berries at a time. Once your berries are crushed put them in a sauce pot on the stove and set the heat to medium-high. Add the fresh lemon juice. If you are making spiced jam, add the spices you want to add as well. TIP: Before cutting the lemon open roll it on a cutting board or hard countertop to maximize the amount of juice you squeeze from the lemon!

Measure out your sugar and set it aside, then add the fruit pectin. Stir the berry mixture until it comes to a boil. When the mixture is at a full boil add the sugar. Stir constantly for 1-2 minutes at a full boil, then remove from heat. Now you can start pouring jam into your jars!

After you have poured the jam into all of the jars, cover the jars with their seals and screw-tops then set in boiling water for 5 minutes (I used 2 large sauteing pans). This processes the jam and seals the jars. After 5 minutes, remove jars from water and set aside to cool. Now to get creative!

The jam will take a couple of hours to cool off, mine took about 8 hours. While I was waiting for the jam to cool off I hopped onto Adobe Illustrator and quickly made up some 1″ x 1″ circle labels for my jam jars. I printed them out and put them through my Xyron create-a-sticker maker (a nifty gadget found at my local JoAnns - it applies sticker adhesive to jsut about anything!). I cut them out by hand with scissors, but I would suggest using an exact-o knife or hole punch for a more professional finish. I also cut out fabric squares from some floral patterned fabric I picked up at JoAnns. I found it in the remnants section.

When the jam was cool I unscrewed the cap and laid out my fabric square, then re-screwed the cap back on. I put the sticker on the jar, and I also tied some twine around the lid. I love how they turned out! And everyone I gave jam to is raving over how good it turned out. I can’t wait to make some more! Next time I'll make some spiced peach for the fall!

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