Fruit Jam or Jelly
4 c fruit (pureed, chopped, juice or whatever consistency you like)
2 c very smooth unsweetened applesauce
1 box dry pectin (2 for marmalade)
6 c sugar
Place all fruit in a large saucepan (about an 8 quart). Open the box of pectin and throw away the instructions. Open the little envelope and dump the contents into the saucepan with the fruit. Bring to a nice rolling boil, stirring occasionally. Add sugar and bring back to a rolling boil, stirring more frequently. Boil for anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, until it looks like it will jell. By this I mean when you spread a splash on a cold plate, let it cool and push it with your finger you get some resistance and you can see wrinkles in the surface of the jam.
In the meantime prepare your jars, rings and lids. Jars need to be clean and then I usually stand them in a 9x13 pan in about an inch of very hot water. The rings just need to be clean. The lids need to be boiled in a small pan of water and then let them stand in the water until you are ready for them. They need to stay hot so I usually boil them just as the jam is getting done.
Now for the really fun part; the jam is so very hot so this part is burn your fingers fun! When your jam looks like it will jell, fill your jars. The jar rims must be wiped in order for the lids to set properly and in order for the rings to not stick, so burn your fingers. Fish the lids out of the boiled water with a fork and burn your fingers placing them on the jars. Place the rings on the jars and screw them down tightly burning your fingers as you do this. If you don’t get them on tight enough, the jam will ooze out during the next step. Stand them on their heads on a triple layer of newspaper covered with a towel. Set your timer for 30 minutes and when it goes off burn your fingers turning them right side up. Turning them upside down for 30 minutes helps to kill any lingering bacteria and gets the top of the jar and lid nice and hot for proper sealing. Let your jars set at least overnight, several days is better to get a seal that will not be broken by jostling.
The reason for the applesauce is that most jam or jelly fruits do not have much in the way of natural pectin of their own and even using a box of pectin won’t be enough to make them jell. Apples have a ton of natural pectin and using 2 cups of them with your fruit of choice will not distort the flavor of the jam or jelly, but it will give you the added pectin you need to have a nice consistency of product when you get done. Sometimes I buy canned applesauce for this, but usually I buy about three Granny Smith apples, peel and core them and puree them with my fruit.
You will find this to be not as sweet as most store bought jams or even most recipes. I believe this helps make the flavor of the fruit the star of the show.
Most recipes and canning books are going to tell you that you must water bath your jam. I have never done this as I have never found it necessary. If you want to water bath your jam or jelly, you will need to follow someone else’s recipe.
5 hours ago