Thursday, April 3, 2014

Jam - a gift for any occasion

Let's forget that this post was originally planned during the Christmas season.  But the concept works for any time of year, especially now if you are starting to think about all of the wonderful fresh fruits that will be beckoning you to buy them in the months ahead. I love spring and summer for that very reason - all of the glorious fruit. But if you are like me, it all looks and smells so good that you overbuy and then wonder what in the world you are going to do with ALL of that fruit before it gets too ripe to enjoy.

The answer??   Make jam!

Up until a few months ago, I had never made jam - no  - not EVER!   And I was never tempted to as it seemed like so much trouble with all of the sterilization of the jars and canning process and ugh -

The Ball Automatic Jam and Jelly Maker

Well the Ball Jam and Jelly Maker has clearly made a believer out of me -there is nothing like homemade jam and all you need is fresh fruit or good quality juice (for jelly).  Because you don't go through the canning process, the jam doesn't last forever - 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer. (However mine is lasting  MUCH longer than that in the refrigerator).

I know I am lucky living in southern CA because berries are in the stores just about year round. So when I was trying to think of something different to do for my neighbors this year, I quickly decided to make mixed berry jam.

How beautiful are those raspberries and blackberries?  YUM!

All crushed and ready to be made into jam.

With this special machine, it just doesn't get more gratifying.  Fresh jam in less than a half hour - love it!

Once you crush the fruit, you are ready to go. The pectin goes in the machine first and then the berries or juice (if making jelly). After a short amount of time, you add the sugar, cover it, and let it finish cooking.  I use the low sugar pectin so mine is not as sweet, but the fruit flavor is stronger.  It's a personal preference - they make a regular pectin which is used in the same quantity, but the sugar is increased. Equally easy to use.

The berries are cooking with the pectin.

Sugar has been added and the cooking finishes with the lid on.

Time to fill the jars with fruit goodness!

I had made it a few times and was pleasantly surprised at how good and easy it was!  And jam would be appreciated year round and so easy to package for any holiday or celebration.

The jam is cooling with the inner lids barely on.

Ready for the refrigerator - or delivery!

These were Christmas gifts, but they truly would make 
a welcome gift for any occasion.

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