Jam For Beginners 2

The other day I made my first Jam - strawberry - and oh so good strawberry at that. Today I stepped it up and went for pear. I've got a ton of pears going to no good use in my backyard so the logical thing is to use them. I had interesting times with this recipe, so I'm sharing it from a magazine.

This, like the strawberry, is a long boil jam, not freezer jam. It can be stored on a shelf for up to one year. Once opened, it will be good for about 3 weeks to a month. Follow the recipe exactly, never half or double the recipe or the jam may not set properly.

Recipe Ingredients:

8 cups crushed pears (It is best to use slightly under-ripe fruit than over ripe, for reasons of pectin content and flavour. With pears, it's good to use a mixture made up mostly of slightly under-ripe and about 1/3 ripe)

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 cup of water

6 cups sugar

Peel, core and chop the pears. Crush them and measure into a large, deep stainless steel pot. Add the lemon juice and water and cook gently for 10 minutes. (make sure you stir as well every so often) Then add the sugar.

Cook time: 15 minutes.

Yield – 8x250 or 236 ml jars. (I got 9 250 ml, but again I think I put a little less in each one)

This can look a little complicated if you're first starting out, but after your first you'll feel like a pro. I did this without a canner, and with only what I had in my kitchen. If you have a stock pot, this would be the time to use it. I used a deep pot for the recipe, another deep pot for sterilizing the jars and snap lids, and once the recipe was made and the jars filled and covered, I quickly washed out the deep pot I used for the recipe, and used it to boil the jars. It worked perfectly.

Also note – this can get very messy. Strawberry messy x 2. Really though, like that's a deterrent!

Place the empty jars on a rack in a boiling canner (I used a deep pot). Cover the jars with water (or as close to covered as you can) and bring to a simmer (note: if you can’t completely cover the jars with water for sterilization, rotate them a little every now and then in the water. Also, a dishwasher will sterilize them as well. Just be sure to keep them warm). Set the screw bands aside. Heat the snap lids as well, NOT boiling (I put the snap lids into the same pot as my jars). Keep them all warm until ready to use.

*I had the jars and lids in the water heating while I was making the recipe.

Prepare the recipe above. To reduce the foaming that will occur, add ½ tsp of butter or vegetable oil to the mixture, if desired. I did. I was happy I did.

Bring the mixture to a boiling point slowly, stirring until sugar dissolves. (You have to stir the pear jam more than the strawberry jam) Increase the heat and boil vigorously for the approximate cook time listed above – 15 minutes. As the mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. When I say frequently I mean don't leave the stove, lest you condemn your stove a volcanic eruption of pear-y goodness.

When conducting a gel test to see if the jam is ready, remove the pot from the burner to prevent over cooking.

Gel test:

Before cooking the mixture, put a saucer into the freezer. To conduct a gel test to see if the jam is done, remove the saucer and place some jam onto it, placing it back into the freezer until it reaches room temp. Take it out, run your finger through it. If the line your finger made stays, it’s good. If the jam seeps back into the tunnel your finger just made, it’s still too runny and needs to be cooked longer.

If the 15 minute mark has passed and the jam is still not jelled enough, just keep cooking it until it is finished, remembering to stir very frequently. The proportions measured for the recipe may not have been exact, causing this to happen, but it’s no big deal. Just cook it until it’s ready.

Remove from heat. If there is any foam, skim it off. Remove the hot jars from the pot and ladle the hot jam into them. As with other jam recipe, use a non-metallic utensil to remove air bubbles by moving it around in the mixture. Wipe the jar rim to remove any stickiness and center the hot snap lid on the jar. Apply the screw band securely and firmly, until resistance is met – finger tight. Don’t over tighten.

Place the jars in the canner (or in my case, a deep pot of water) and bring to a boil. Boil the filled jars for 10 minutes. Don’t start timing until the water is boiling. Remove the jars without tilting, and cool them upright, undisturbed for 24 hours. Do not re-tighten screw bands.

After cooking, check the seals. The lids should be down and should not snap when pressed. Label the jars and store in a cool, dark place.

Voila! Now you have pear jam.

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