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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

sticky and sweet stuff.

I went into my parents yesterday and made apricot jam. We did not have a good harvest off of our tree this year, but my nephews soon to be in laws did. We got a bag of apricots from them and my parents said I could make it at their house which is a bit cooler to work in.
As far as pectin goes my dad bought 3 different types of pectin. One I trust and always use, one I had tried before and did not care for in the long term, and one I had never used.
  1. Celo liquid pectin(made by Sure Jel)- I have to say this has got to be my least favorite pectin I have ever used. It works well when there is more than one of you working on the jam, but if you are making jam by yourself forget it. The problem is that the pectin goes into the mixture when it is boiling. You can't squeeze it out of the packet quick enough to keep the jam from scorching on high heat. Not convenient at all. If you find a liquid pectin that goes in first, before you start to cook then it should be okay.
  2. Sure-Jel less/no sugar pectin. I have used this before and it is an okay stand by. I would not suggest making too many batches of this, as I found the shelf life to not be satisfactory. Usually my apricot jam stays wonderful for several years. It doesn't lose its color, flavor, or go sugary. With the less sugar recipe it does. The benefit is if you like lots of fruit in your jam this it the kind to use. 6 cups of chopped apricots per batch with an approx 7 cup yield gives a very fruity jam.
  3. MCP pectin- This has been my favorite for years. It does use the most sugar, and you get the largest yield (11 cups per batch). I find it does not go sugary, the flavor of the jam is good, and it is very easy to make. You do cook this the longest, (4 minutes when it reaches the second boil), which might explain the good shelf life. The mixture is very hot to go in the jars. I have never had a batch of jam fail when I use MCP pectin.
I find making jam to be a very easy and non stress way to preserve some fruit. You can count the jam as part of your sugar storage, so it is handy that way too. I usually only make two types of jam, apricot and raspberry. I know some people love strawberry freezer jam, I have never, ever had good result with strawberry so I don't do it. (Don't ask me why, I really don't know. It always comes out sugary even though I follow the directions precisely.)
So if you are going to attempt canning this is a good start. I also don't water bath my jams. I just use the inversion method. If you are nervous about it go ahead and use the water bath. I have never had a problem with jam going bad.
Have fun, good luck and enjoy the fruits of you labor.

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