Current Jam Notes Newsletter

August 2017 Jam Notes: Peach Melba Jam and FAQ’s

CanningCraft Creates: Peach Melba Jam

By Allison Carroll Duffy

For several winters when I was a young kid, my family vacationed at Mount Tremblant, a ski resort a couple of hours north of Montreal. I’ve heard it’s quite ritzy and modern these days, but when I was there, in the 70’s and very early 80’s, that was definitely not the case. The dining room and lodge were formal in an old-timey kind of way, and just a touch shabby. It was here, as a seven year old, dining at a table with starched white napkins, formal place settings, and an old-school fancy French menu, that I first encountered the Peach Melba–a luscious dessert of fresh peaches topped with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce.

Legend has it that this dessert was invented by the famous French chef Escoffier in the very late 1800s, and named for the famous opera singer Nellie Melba, who was a frequent guest at his restaurant. Whatever the case, I was smitten with Peach Melba, and ordered it for dessert every night for the rest of vacation. It’s still one of my favorite desserts, and I love the fact that its ingredients are simple and few.

With summertime offering up gorgeous, in-season, perfectly-ripe peaches and raspberries, it seems like a great time to make a jam reminiscent of the dessert. This jam is delicious any way you eat it, but for an amazing treat, enjoy a big dollop it on top of vanilla ice cream!

Get the Recipe for Peach Melba Jam here

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Fun Fact: In the 1940’s, Joan Miró (Spanish painter, sculptor, and ceramicist) used blackberry jam as an art medium…

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Jammin Frequently Asked Questions

It’s summer time and the fruits are ripe and ready to be preserved for the year…but before you get to cookin’ here are a few FAQs to keep in mind…

Pomona’s Universal Pectin is unique, simple, and a must-have to those of us who put great care into what we fuel our bodies with. But with those qualities come some changes to the standard jamming process we follow in order to be successful in making our jams and jellies.

For a number of our customers it is very difficult to wipe the slate clean on how they THINK Pomona’s Pectin will/should work, and be open to learn HOW Pomona’s truly works and WHY.

Here are the Top 5 problem areas explained. {Our website is also an extensive resource for all your jam-related queries. }

1. What’s the deal with the Calcium?

Pomona Pectin is activated by calcium (yes, that little small packet in your box…it’s magic!), and unlike every other pectin on the market, it has not been mixed with sugar nor does it need sugar to beautifully set up your jams and jellies.

Now here is where a number of our customers get hung up…the making of the CALCIUM WATER. If you have never used Pomona’s this can be daunting and/or missed all together.

So take a peek at the bottom of your directions sheet before you begin and start every jam making process by making your calcium water (unless you already have yours made in the fridge like a pro!)

1/2 tsp. calcium powder, mixed with ½ cup water…I place mine in a small mason jar and shake well.

 

2. Mashing your fruit is an important step in the process of making jam with Pomona’s Pectin.

If your fruit is too course the pectin can bind to it instead of dissolving into your mixture and getting evenly dispersed…also resulting in gummy pectin clumps attached to your beautiful fruit.

Each recipe developed for Pomona’s has been tested with that SPECIFIC method for accurate proportions of ingredients.

If you prefer to have your jam with whole pieces (such as currants) or larger pieces (such as cherry chunks), that is totally fine…but make sure you have enough juice so that your recipe has enough liquid. We recommend filling your measuring cup with the chunky fruit, then adding some liquid (water or juice) so that it fills in all the gaps between the fruit pieces…imagine having a measuring cup filled with gravel and filling up all the extra space with water to make a full two cups.

3. Mixing Pomona’s Pectin with your sweetener of choice is the way to go! Whether it be traditional sugar, honey, juice concentrate, agave, Stevia, or something more exotic, with Pomona’s it’s a MUST to mix your sweetener with the pectin BEFORE adding it to your fruit…here’s why:

Since Pomona’s Pectin is activated by calcium, the moment the two come in contact with one another, they bind. This is GREAT when you do the process correctly because then you have a beautifully jelled product…but doing it out of order can lead to some very unappealing end results.

Mixing your pectin with your sweetener allows for the pectin to be dispersed with that sweetener so that when it gets mixed into the hot fruit mixture it can quickly dissolve without clumping (by binding to the calcium).

If you choose to not use any sweetener in your jam or jelly or are using a juice concentrate, you will still be mixing your liquid and pectin before adding it to the rest of your mixture- this is called “liquid pectin.”

To make liquid pectin you’ll use an immersion blender, food processor, or blender. You can make liquid pectin with boiling water, boiling unsweetened fruit juice, or boiling mashed fruit or juice if you have unjelled jam or jelly.

Use Table 1 below to determine the amount of water, unsweetened fruit juice, unjelled jam, or unjelled jelly that you will use to blend the pectin into. See examples below the table.

Table 1

Pectin to Add Amount of boiling liquid
Up to 3 teaspoons   –   ½ cup liquid
4 to 4 ¾ teaspoons   –   ¾ cup liquid
5 to 6 teaspoons   –   1 cup liquid
7 teaspoons   –   1 ¼ cups liquid
8 teaspoons   –   1 1/3 cups liquid

 

4. Lemon Juice, Lemon Juice, LEMON JUICE!

Lemon Juice, Lime Juice and Vinegar are very important ingredients in canning and food preservation. Knowing the pH (or acidity level) of your preserved product is valuable information that can tell you whether all your hard work will have a lasting shelf-life or not. The ideal pH level for safely canned items is between 2.9-3.8.

When it comes to making jams and jellies it is always recommended that you use STORE BOUGHT Lemon/Lime Juice. Always. Why, you ask? Aren’t all things better fresh? What if I don’t have a bottle of store bought lemon/lime juice?

Here’s why…bottled (store bought) lemon or lime juice is guaranteed to have a certain pH level which makes it ideal for safe, at home canning. We cannot guarantee that the lemons or limes you juiced today have the acidity level needed to make your jams and jellies safe for long term storage.

As a workaround for those of us who live in rural areas or have our own lemon/lime trees, you can test your fresh lemon juice to make sure it’s acidic enough. Purchase pH strips at just about any pharmacy or buy a digital pH meter and use it over and over again to test your fresh lemon/lime juice. Lemon juice should be between 2.00-2.60 pH. Lime juice should be between 2.00-2.35.

 

5. Give your jars a BATH!

Yep, that’s right; water bath canning is a must! According to the USDA it is safest to water-bath can your jam, jellies, preserves, pie fillings, etc.

Here is what they have to say in their wonderfully helpful document on Home Canning at: {http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/usda/GUIDE01_HomeCan_rev0715.pdf}

Boiling-water canners

These canners are made of aluminum or porcelain-covered steel. They have removable perforated racks and fitted lids. The canner must be deep enough so that at least 1 inch of briskly boiling water will be over the tops of jars during processing. Some boiling-water canners do not have flat bottoms. A flat bottom must be used on an electric range. Either a flat or ridged bottom can be used on a gas burner. To ensure uniform processing of all jars with an electric range, the canner should be no more than 4 inches wider in diameter than the element on which it is heated.

Using boiling-water canners

Follow these steps for successful boiling-water canning:

1. Before you start preparing your food, fill the canner halfway with clean water. This is approximately the level needed for a canner load of pint jars. For other sizes and numbers of jars, the amount of water in the canner will need to be adjusted so it will be 1 to 2 inches over the top of the filled jars.

2. Preheat water to 140°F for raw-packed foods and to 180°F for hot-packed foods. Food preparation can begin while this water is preheating.

3. Load filled jars, fitted with lids, into the canner rack and use the handles to lower the rack into the water; or fill the canner with the rack in the bottom, one jar at a time, using a jar lifter. When using a jar lifter, make sure it is securely positioned below the neck of the jar (below the screw band of the lid). Keep the jar upright at all times. Tilting the jar could cause food to spill into the sealing area of the lid.

4. Add more boiling water, if needed, so the water level is at least 1 inch above jar tops. For process times over 30 minutes, the water level should be at least 2 inches above the tops of the jars.

5. Turn heat to its highest position, cover the canner with its lid, and heat until the water in the canner boils vigorously.

6. Set a timer for the total minutes required for processing the food.

7. Keep the canner covered and maintain a boil throughout the process schedule. The heat setting may be lowered a little as long as a complete boil is maintained for the entire process time. If the water stops boiling at any time during the process, bring the water back to a vigorous boil and begin the timing of the process over, from the beginning.

8. Add more boiling water, if needed, to keep the water level above the jars.

9. When jars have been boiled for the recommended time, turn off the heat and remove the canner lid. Wait 5 minutes before removing jars.

10. Using a jar lifter, remove the jars and place them on a towel, leaving at least 1-inch spaces between the jars during cooling.

Let jars sit undisturbed to cool at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours.

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