it's okay to play with your food

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Strawberry Plum Jam: Part 1

I didn’t exactly go about this the right way. I mean, most people get their ducks in a row before embarking on a project like jam. Apparently, I am not one of those people. Rather, I prefer starting with 5 pounds of fruit, crossing my fingers and hoping I get my act together before the fruit spoils.

Wednesday morning I was wooed by the strawberries and plums at Reading Terminal Market. They were pretty, cheap and I’ve been meaning to jam anyway so… I bought 5 pounds of them.

I started poking around the internet and asking friends for advice:

“So what’s up with this “jar” business? Where do I find them?”
“Pectin… is it really necessary?”

“I’m sorry, you need a pot that’s HOW large?”

Thursday night I got to work, ignoring for a few hours the fact that Acme was sold-out of jars, meaning I was still jar-less. I took advantage of the optional first step in Marisa McClellan’s strawberry jam recipe: let the fruit stew overnight in sugar and vanilla bean. This would buy me some time. With Thriller playing in the background, I mashed up the berries and plums, brainstorming other places I could go for some proper canning jars.

Marisa and E had both suggested the Shop-Rite on Snyder Avenue for jars and pectin, but that was very out of my way and I had a window of about two hours before work in which to make something happen. Kitchen Kapers on 17th looked promising and it was on my way to the office.

Indeed, I made it into work on Friday with 8 jars, 4 5-oz (so cute!) and 4 17-oz. Kitchen Kapers carried three different types of jars, including French jars. The ones I bought had caps for vacuum sealing, which seemed appropriate. (Again, I really didn’t know what I was looking for, but they were jars with lids, so I bought them!)

So my next question was, how long does jamming take? Taking another look at Marisa’s strawberry jam post reminded me that she herself had even left the berries in the fridge for two nights and they were fine. I decided to take the chance and spend early Saturday morning jamming. I figured if I started around 9, that would leave me enough time before heading out for the day.

So here I am. It's now Saturday morning and jamming has begun. I started around 7:30, just to be safe. I'm cooking the fruit in two batches since I don't have enough big pots. I was lucky enough last night to score a large pot for canning from Jim and Aditi. I also never got pectin. Mike said he never uses it when he jams and plums have pectin naturally. It's all been working out so far, I'm hoping my good luck continues. What's the worse that could happen?


chocolate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chocolate said...

I'm intrigued. Can't wait to read the results.

- Malik

Marisa said...

Here's the thing about not using pectin. You have to cook the fruit a whole lot longer than my recipe recommends in order to get the jam to set. Also, strawberries are very low in natural pectin, so they don't set naturally very well. So while it is possible to make jam without pectin, it's not as reliable as when you use it. The good thing is that even if it doesn't set, it will still taste good.

kitchenplay said...

Hey Marisa! Yes, well, I did cook it a bit longer and I used a bit more sugar, since from reading around the web it seemed like that would help compensate for the lack of pectin. I'll definitely use pectin next time, when I have my act together, so I can compare the two. I mean, it isn't super gelatinous but it has a jammy type consistency. Maybe it's more of a jelly?