grape jam

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This is such an easy jam to make and you can use any grapes, not just Concord. For this jam I used a blue-black variety called Moon Drop grapes, shaped somewhat unusually like a torpedo. They are seedless, sweet, and I did not peel them. I used sugar in a 1:2 ratio or half as much sugar as the weight of the grapes so you can adjust up or down as you need to. And instead of using pectin I put in one whole chopped green apple seeded with the peel.

Grape Jam
makes 3 cups jam

800 grams grapes
400 grams granulated sugar
1 medium green apple, chopped, seeded, with peel
Juice of 3 small limes
1 cup water

Boil a kettle of water. Wash and rinse jars and fill to the brim with the boiling water. Set aside. Put lids in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside. Put 2 small saucers in the freezer for testing the jam.

In a large pot, put the grapes, water, sugar, apple, and lime juice. You can throw in the lime halves too. Bring to a boil over medium low heat and stir occasionally. Mash the fruit as it softens. Boil until the jam reaches a temperature between 217 degrees F and 220 degrees F, about 10 to 25 minutes. Take a saucer out of the freezer and drop a spoonful of jam liquid in it. Return to the freezer for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes take out the saucer and drag your finger through the jam. If it separates, the jam has set. If the jam runs back together it is not yet set. Boil the jam for a few minutes more and test again.

Fish the lime halves out of the jam and discard. Tip the water out of the clean jam jars and fill with jam, leaving 1/4 inch headspace at the top. Screw on the covers and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate 12-24 hours to allow the jam to set before eating. After that it can even be frozen.

Strawberry Season: no pectin strawberry preserves

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It’s the tail-end of the cool dry season, which means strawberries are in season in Thailand. I bought 4 pounds from a farmer’s truck to make strawberry preserves. This version, adapted from The Kitchn does not use pectin. You use lemon juice and lemon rind as a source of pectin to jell the preserves. It will not be as thick as with pectin, so its consistency tends to be thinner. This recipe uses less sugar so you will have a product that is tart and lightly sweet.

4 pounds strawberries, washed, hulled, and quartered
9 cups granulated sugar
3 lemons, juiced, save the lemon halves trimming the stem ends

Put 4 metal tablespoons in the freezer. Fill 6 8-oz jars with hot water and cover the lids with hot water in a separate bowl. Set aside.

In a large pot, combine the strawberries with sugar and lemon juice. Mash lightly with a potato masher. Add the lemon halves. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes or until the liquid is thickened and reduced by half. Test the preserves to see if they have set. Remove a spoon from the freezer and dribble some of the strawberry liquid on it. Run your finger through the juice, if it leaves a trail, it is set. If not, continue cooking for another 20 minutes. It took 60 minutes to make this batch.

Throw off the hot water in the jars and carefully fill empty jars with the preserves leaving 1 inch head-space. Cover and let cool to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator

Eat within 3 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.

low sugar no pectin strawberry preserves (or jam)

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Strawberry Preserves
2 quarts strawberries, hulled
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
rind of 2 lemons

Put 3 metal tablespoons in the freezer. Fill 6 half-cup jars with boiling water and set aside. In a large bowl, pour boiling water on the lids to cover and set aside. Put the bowl-end of a soup ladle in the bowl too.

In a large pot combine strawberries and sugar over medium-low heat. Add lemon juice and the rind. Crush the berries being careful not to crush the lemon rind.
Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and mixing in the froth that forms. Continue cooking 15-18 minutes until set.

To test, take a spoon out of the freezer. Dribble a few drops on the spoon and run your finger through the drops. If the liquid separates and doesn’t run back together, the strawberries are set. Taste, and add more sugar to taste or more lemon juice to taste. Cook until the sugar is dissolved.

Carefully drain the water from a jar. Remove the soup ladle and drain. Using the ladle, spoon strawberry preserves into the drained jar. Using a pair of tongs, fish a lid out of the bowl of hot water and carefully cover the jar of preserves. Set aside to cool. Repeat

When the filled jars are cool enough to touch, put them in the refrigerator to finish setting. Eat within 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator, or freeze for 3 months.

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low sugar no pectin cherry jam

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My sister-in-law gave me a box of organic cherries as a gift. Fresh cherries in Bangkok are a rare and expensive treat. I decided to share the experience–and the love.

Low Sugar No Pectin Cherry Jam

5 cups pitted organic cherries
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 small lemons
pinch of salt

Put the cherries and sugar in a large 2-3 quart pot. Add the juice of one-and-a-half medium lemon and put the lemon rind halves in the pot. Cook over medium heat until the cherries soften. Mash them with a potato masher until they are chunky in texture.

Put three metal tablespoons in the freezer to chill.

Let the cherry mixture come to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture reduces and thickens. Do a spoon test. Dribble a few drops on one of the spoons from the freezer then run your finger across the drops. If it separates, the jam has set.

Remove the lemon pieces and discard. Spoon the jam into three clean four-ounce jars. Refrigerate until the jam is cold and has jelled.

my obsession: fruit jams

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I have become obsessed with jam.

Now I am spooning strawberry jam on top of a stack of pancakes and eating it with yogurt. Technically, I called this a strawberry jam after the recipe, but it lacked the consistency of commercial jams. So is it a jam or a preserve?

Whatever! It was fun and easy to make, so when Andy bought some red seedless grapes instead of eating it all, I made grape jam. I know red grapes aren’t the type of grape used to make jam, but I wanted to try it anyway. I used the same recipe for the strawberry jam from The Kitchn.

Red Grape Refrigerator/Freezer Jam
Makes 1 1/2 cups
Fills 2 Weck Tulip (7.4 oz) jars

3 cups red seedless grapes, quartered
1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar, plus more to sweeten to taste
pinch of salt
Lemon

Boil a kettle of water. Wash and dry two Weck tulip jars (each 7.4 oz). Fill with boiling water and set aside. Fill a small bowl with hot water and soak the lid and rubber sealing rings. Set aside.

Taste the grapes to see how sweet it is and adjust the sugar accordingly. In a medium size pot add the grapes, salt, and sugar. Cut a 2 inch piece of lemon from the end. Squeeze the juice into the pot and drop in the rind. Mash grapes, being careful not to mash the lemon piece. Put 3 metal tablespoons in the freezer.

Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. When it bubbles, cook for another 8 minutes, stirring frequently. It should start to deepen in color to an eggplant purple and begin to thicken.

Take a spoon out of the freezer and dribble a few drops of jam on the spoon. Make a track in the jam—if it doesn’t run back together it is set. If it does, cook a bit longer and test again.

Taste the jam on the spoon. If it isn’t sweet enough, add more sugar to taste. Cook for a few minutes more, stirring, to dissolve the sugar.

When the jam is set, remove the lemon rind and discard. Pour the jam into a clean 2-cup measure. Drain the jars and carefully pour the jam in each jar, evenly dividing the jam between each. Leave 1/2 inch headspace. Cover. Refrigerate to eat now or freeze to eat later.

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low sugar no pectin strawberry refrigerator/freezer jam

DSC05140I made French toast today and put a spoonful of the strawberry jam on top and between the slices. I added a dollop of crème fraîche. Delicious. I reserve “decadent” for chocolate but this jam was pretty close.

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Strawberries were on sale at Tops Supermarket for Baht 139 per pint. I bought 2 pints. I knew I didn’t want to make another strawberry pie again,  so I thought, what about strawberry jam? The berries in the pints were either just ripe or somewhat under-ripe. Perfect for jam. Something tart-yet-sweet to spread on toast or eat with bread and peanut butter. The Kitchn had this recipe called Basic Fruit Jam that seemed quite simple and made just one batch. It was also low in sugar, up to 1/2 cup went into the jam;   and, this clinched it,  the recipe did not call for pectin. Instead it uses lemon to set the jam. I got 12 ounces of jam from the 2 pints. So here it is:

Low Sugar No Pectin Strawberry Refrigerator/Freezer Jam

2 pints strawberries, about 3 cups diced
1 lemon
1/4 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup more
pinch of salt

Put 3 tablespoons in the freezer (tell you why later!) but do it. It’s really cool.

Boil some water and pour it into two clean jars, one 8 ounces the other 4 ounces. Put the lids in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside.

Prep the strawberries and cut a one inch piece of lemon from the end of the lemon.

Combine the fruit and sugar in a 2-3 quart pot. Add a pinch of salt. Squeeze in the lemon juice and drop the rind in the pot. Over medium heat, mash the fruit with a potato masher, avoiding mashing the lemon. Mash the berries until you get a chunky texture.

Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. When it boils, watch it carefully, stirring frequently, until the bubbles get smaller. Continue boiling 5-8 minutes. The mixture will start to thicken and as the strawberries cook, their color deepens to a warm ruby red.

Check to see if the jam has set. Remove a spoon from the freezer and dribble a few drops of jam on it. Run your finger through the jam. If it leaves a track without filling in, the jam is set. If not, continue cooking the jam and testing it until it is set. Isn’t that easy?!

As you test, taste the jam on the spoon, of course, don’t let it go to waste!  If it isn’t sweet enough add another 2-3 tablespoons or up to 1/4 cup more sugar–in other words, sweeten to taste. Stir sugar into the jam and cook until sugar dissolves. If more acidity is desired, add a bit of lemon juice, stirring to combine. I added an extra quarter cup of sugar and the jam came out tart-yet-sweet. When the jam is set, remove the lemon rind and discard.

Spoon the jam into a measuring cup with a spout. Drain off the water in the jars and pour the jam into the clean jars. The jars will be very hot so use caution and wear silicone gloves or use silicone pot holders to do this. I left 1/2 inch at the top of the 8 oz jar to allow for expansion.  I had four ounces left over; this went into the smaller jar. Fish out the lids with a pair of tongs and screw them on the jars. Because I knew we wouldn’t get to eat it right away, I  put the 8-ounce jar in the freezer. The 4-ounce jar of jam went into the refrigerator to enjoy later when it cooled and set some more.

Basic Jam for Beginners, All Natural, Low Sugar, No Pectin Added

The High Heel Gourmet

Basic Jam Making for Beginner - NO Pectin by The High Heel Gourmet

Well, in case you ever wondered (just for the few that do wonder…I hope there is at least one, please!) why I’m not blogging as often in summer months, it’s because I’m busy doing preserves (jams), conserves, syrups or coulis from several fruits at the peak of the season, and some sauces, especially tomato sauce; these are taking time away from blogging and responding to comments.

Since I’ve been busy with preserving fruit, there are a lot of requests about my jam–either wanting to learn how to make them, or  how to BUY them. I’m NOT going to sell my jams, sorry. I don’t make jam to sell. I only make enough for myself and to give to my close friends. With the price I’m paying for fruit and sugar, if I sold them they would be too expensive.

Why? Because I don’t buy cheap fruit! I’m going to be…

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