My mum has been very fond of making jams and jellies.All through winters we would watch her preparing and making a huge variety of jams and jellies- apple jam,guava jelly ,bitter orange marmalade and distributing to all her friends and relatives. Bitter Orange Marmalade -BOM as we would call it has been my most favorite of all times!!! Back then I thought anyone who liked Orange Marmalade was the most sophisticated person around! Well.... I still think that..
Gourmet jams and preserves have got my attention in the last few months.
The most important thing I have learnt while making jams from my mum's
repertoire is that just-ripe fruit is the key ingredient -which provides flavor
and which are ideal for making jams.
Some other important ingredients in jam making are pectin and sugar. Pectin is found naturally in fruits and when combined with sugar and other sweeteners produces gel.Slightly under ripe fruit contains the most pectin.Its concentrated in the skins and cores of fruits.Pectin is the reason why recipes call for using skins and cores for juicing and pulping.Apples and some citrus fruits have most pectin in them .
Fruits will not thicken without acid.Fruits naturally contain acid and the amount of acid is higher in under ripe fruit.
Sugar is essential to help form the gel and contributes to flavor,reducing the amount of sugar in the recipe contributes to poor or no gelling. Sugar called for in recipes is refined white sugar, but other natural and artificial sweeteners can be used following special directions.
Caramel and Pear Jam Slightly adapted from here Ingredients: 1kg Pears, peeled and finely chopped 300g sugar 10g vanilla sugar 1 lemon, zest and juice 1 Vanilla bean with the seeds 2cm ginger peeled 25g powdered pectin 50ml dark rum For the caramel: 100g sugar 50ml cold water 50ml hot water Since the amount of sugar in this recipe is quite small,You can use pectin to help it thicken. Directions:
Put a Saucer in a freezer so you can test the thickness of your jam later.
For the caramel, combine sugar and cold water in a small heavy-bottom pot. Cook on medium heat until sugar dissolves and starts to get a dark amber color. Remove from heat, stir in the hot water and cool to room temperature. Puree approximately 2/3 of the prepared pears in a blender. In a large heavy-based pot combine chopped pears, puree, sugar and vanilla sugar. Add caramel, zest and juice of one lemon, vanilla seeds and ginger . Put it on high heat and cook, stirring occasionally until it boils and starts to bubble. If it starts to froth,skim the surface with a spoon. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for approximately 30-40 mins, stirring frequently.The juices will start to evaporate and the jam will thicken,keep stirring continuously towards the end of cooking time to prevent it from burning. When the pears have cooked through and most of the juices have evaporated, discard the vanilla and the ginger . Add pectin and cook on high heat, stirring constantly, until the jam thickens some more. This should take a few minutes. Test the thickness of your jam. Take the Saucer out of the freezer and put a teaspoon of jam on it. The coldness of the Saucer will instantly cool the jam and you will see how thick it will eventually be. If it's too thin, return to heat and cook until it reaches the desired thickness. Add rum and remove from heat.The purpose of adding alchohol is that it stops sugar from cooking further!! Ladle the hot jam into clean sterilized jars. Store in a cool and dark place and enjoy!!!!!!!