Saturday, September 4, 2010

Home-made Blackberry Jam

My friend Gail is an amazing cook and has the perfect recipe for just about any occasion. She's the youngest of nine children and everyone in her family cooks. They put together a cookbook a few years ago and I am fortunate to have my own copy. Last time I saw her, she gave me a jar of her home-made jam. I spread it on my breakfast toast and it was wonderful. It tastes like a summer morning - delicate and sweetly luscious!

1-12 oz. bag frozen blackberries
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
Combine and bring to a slow boil for about 30 minutes. Stir about every 5 minutes while mixture boils. When the mixture starts to thicken, add 1 tsp. Real Lemon and 1/2 tsp. butter (not sure what the butter does but I see it in all the recipes). Makes enough for 2 jars of jam. Keep refrigerated and use within a month.

Jams are made from fruit, preserved by sugar and thickened or gelled to some extent. To gel properly, sweet spreads must contain the right combination of fruit, pectin, acid and sugar. The fruit gives each spread its unique flavor and color. Fruit also supplies the water needed to dissolve the other ingredients and some or all of the pectin and acid. Good quality, flavorful fruits make the best sweet spreads.

If combined with the right amount of acid and sugar, pectins cause a gel to form. All fruits contain some pectin. The right amount of acid is critical to gel formation. With too little acid, the gel will never set. Too much acid will cause the gel to lose liquid (weep). If fruits are low in acid, add lemon juice.

Sugar helps preserve sweet spreads, contributes flavor and aids in gelling. Granulated white sugar is most often used. Don't reduce the amount of sugar in traditional recipes, because a gel won't form, and molds may grow in the sweet spreads.

Even though sugar helps preserve sweet spreads, molds can still grow on the surface of these products. Be sure to discard any jam containing mold.

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