Types of Jams

Jam is a thick mixture of fruit and sugar, boiled gently until the fruit is soft and almost formless, capturing the taste of summer in a jar. Perfect as a spread for bread, jams also make wonderful fillings for pastries, cakes and cookies. Today jams are becoming a standard ingredient for many easy desserts, and many go well with cheese for a delicious snack or appetizer. Jams can be classified into four types:

Jams with no added pectin

Jams prepared without adding pectin have a softer, less set texture than jams made with commercial pectin. Jams without added pectin must be cooked longer to evaporate the fruit's moisture to concentrate the natural pectin to form the gel. Longer cooking produces a darker-colored product with a slightly caramelized flavor. Although these jams require less added sugar in relation to the amount of fruit than those with added pectin, the longer cooking time reduces the yield and concentrates the sugar content. These jams require a doneness test to ensure the jam will gel when cooled. Old-fashioned jams fall into this type of jam.

Jams with regular powdered fruit pectin

Using commercial pectin to fruit mixtures reduces the cooking time to deliver a fresher-tasting product. Whether to use liquid or regular powdered pectin is a matter of preference, as both products produce similar results. When using a powdered fruit pectin, it is essential to fully dissolve the pectin in the fruit before adding the sugar. For best results when using a powdered pectin, measure the sugar into a bowl so it can be added to the boiling jam all at once. Powdered fruit pectin is sometime sold in 49 g packages and sometimes in 57 g packages. The weight difference does not affect the performance of the product. Traditional jams that your mom made fall into this type of jam.

Jams with liquid pectin

Unlike soft spreads made with powdered pectin, when making jams with liquid pectin, the fruit, lemon juice (if required) and sugar are brought to a boil before the pectin is added. To form a good gel, it is essential to bring the fruit-sugar mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. The entire contents of the liquid pectin pouch is stirred into the mixture, then boiled hard for 1 minute longer. Quick jams fall into this type of jam.

Freezer jams

Making freezer jams is extremely easy. Just chop or crush the fruit and stir in the sugar and freezer jam pectin. You can enjoy the delicious result immediately or freeze it for future use. Since most freezer jams require no cooking, they retain the beautiful color and flavor of just-picked fruit. Most powdered and liquid pectin products include recipes for single-fruit, no-cook freezer spreads. Unfortunately, many of those recipes require relatively high proportions of sugar to fruit. Fortunately, many recipes using special powdered freezer jam pectin require a limited amount of added sweetener -- just enough to enhance the fruit's natural sweet flavor without overpowering it. Pouches of freezer jam pectin is available where food and home canning supplies are sold.

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