Something that isn’t meant to be solid

Right after writing yesterday’s post about solid things I was very disappointed to find something in my fridge that really wasn’t meant to be solid at all.

Last weekend I made my first attempt at making jam. For many years I have enjoyed eating home made jam made by my mother, grandmother, step-mother, aunts. cousins, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, other assorted extended family and friends. And I had finally built up the courage to try it myself after investing quite a bit of time in search of a source of pectin and popping to the corner store for several bags of sugar.

After a busy weekend I was really looking forward to a couple of croissants with my prized batch of my very own home-made jam, but I was sorely disappointed. As I opened the jar I noticed my jam looking a little glossy on top but didn’t really think much of it. Then I went to dig in with a butter knife and simply could not budge it – my jam had set solid as a rock. I must have cooked it for too long, I’m told.

I’m mostly disappointed because it is likely to be some time before I get my hands on a large quantity of jam-making fruit again, that is cheap enough to make it a worthy experiment.

That is, unless our strawberry plants have a massive second wind up their sleeve for this season.

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Do you have any tips for making jam?

21 thoughts on “Something that isn’t meant to be solid

  1. Great work Georgia , I don`t know how to make jam all i know is to eat strawberry jam lol, kidding thanks for sharing this 🙂

  2. Hi Georgia, you don’t know me. I was led here by Jakes Sunday feature 🙂
    I know only one about Jam making other than the actual gelatin quantities (it sounds like you had too much) and that is do not try to cut back on the sugar. If the recipe calls for 18 cups – just do it! as the consistency tilts with less sugar.

    Likely the culprit is two-fold. Cutting back on the sugar, which makes it runny and too much gelatin which gives it stiffness. The gelatin then helps solidify a runny mixture = not spreadable.

    I know we are supposed to refrigerate after opening but I never do. It stays in the cupboard just as it has all my life and I am not dead yet.

    hope this helps! Lesley

  3. Oh Georgia, what a disappointment! Still, you are now an expert at making cherry toffee…nom.
    I’ve had my share of ‘less than optimal’ preserves. But hey, every attempt brings you a little closer to having a spreadable jam in the future.

    If you have trouble judging the ‘wrinkle’ test, it is better to err on the side of too runny next time. You can always re-cook your jams later, but you can’t undo the cooking process at all.

    WRT amounts of sugar – you can most definitely cut down, as generally, the sugar acts as a preservative. If you are going to eat the jam within 12 months, you can virtually halve the amount of sugar (in most cases). And really, given your climate, there isn’t a need to refrigerate for that period of time either.

    Any moulds that do form on the top of a jam (caused through the oxidation process) can be scooped out as they tend not to affect the whole jar. [Botulism is not likely in fruit jams, due to acidity levels.]

    The lemon juice is the thing which helps the setting process along. If you don’t like the tang of lemons too much, you can of course use powdered pectin or jamsetta (follow the instructions carefully) or you can make up your own source by stewing down some apples. My preference is to steer away from the powdered stuff, and hopefully on your next attempt you’ll go with lemon juice instead.

    Anyhoo, yes it is disappointing, but I really hope it doesn’t stop you from having another go at it. It really is worth it, homemade jam! I’ve been madly doing lemon butter, given we’re in citrus season over here, and my trees are laden with fruit. So, when I am spreading some lovely fresh lemon curd on crumpet (or homemade pumpkin scones), I will mostdef spare a thought for you my friend! 😉

    • Oh, so was it wrong to use both lemon juice and pectin at the same time? Whoops!
      And it was the powdered stuff, which I was perhaps a little fast and loose with…. I’ll keep your tips in mind Janny but maybe my next attempt will be with you or another jam-making expert in the family beside me?
      Yep, it definitely tastes like candied sugar, noms for sure. Better preservative actually since it will take me much longer to eat now!

      • Oh oh! My preference (for naturally low-pectin fruit), is to use the juice of 1-2 lemons for 1kg fruit. Alternatives are to add an apple, or the rind of an orange or grapefruit. If I don’t want the lemon tang, I would normally make my own pectin, or buy some of the powdered stuff (which is a concentrated and natural option).

        If you use the no-sugar pectin, you can always add a little sugar (the jam turns out much better if you do), or a sugar-replacement such as stevia (this is a great option for people with diabetes).

        But, no – you don’t use them both together. Also, when using a powdered pectin, your actual cooking time is dramatically lessened. So instead of an hour or so on the stovetop, or 30-40 minutes in the microwave, you would probably do it in 12-15 minutes max.

        Hope this is helpful, and please do have another try. Remember, strawberries are very low in natural pectin, so measure the powder carefully, and I’m sure you will be much happier. Homemade jam FTW!

        With the taffy that you have, you can carefully heat the jar in the microwave (no lid) to loosen it up, put it into another container and stir/cook in some boiling water, mix it really well, and then you have a syrup for over the top of ice cream! (Maybe try a small batch of that to see if it works.) Or, put a dollop on the cheese platter and slice pieces off, like a quince paste! Or, maybe not. 🙂

  4. Can you get to Berkeley CA. fast we have a plum tree that won’t stop plumming. If you have “not to solid jam” add vinegar, raisins and ginger cook it down a little and call it chutney 😉 Anyway, that’s what I do to keep up with the fruit some times.

    • I’d love to visit Berkeley CA but I can’t get there just now. Lucky you though having a tree that won’t stop fruiting!
      My jam is pretty solid at the moment – can I reheat it in the jar to melt it a little to be able to make it into chutney? That is a really good idea.

  5. I am ready for breakfast!! That looks yummy! Thank you for the comments and following my burgeoning blog!

  6. Pingback: Six Word Saturday: Marmalade | Rainbow Bakery

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