Posted by Bee & John on February 6, 2012 at 10:55 PM
"Why isn't my jam setting" is one of my most frequently asked questions by my customers. I blindly told them that they just needed to reduce the liquid in the jam by hitting Varoma temperature for a couple of minutes. Now... to be fair, that does work - but it is thickening the jam and not setting it - but I honestly didn't know the difference until recently.
For those of us who have this "idea" of what jam making should be (MASSIVE pots of bubbling jam and a heavy sugary smell and an exhausted mother) I have found out some interesting things. First and foremost... THANK GOODNESS FOR THE THERMOMIX!!
I thought I "knew" how to make jam. Well.... I can follow a recipe... of course I knew how to "make jam". I have read a few on-line posts (links lower down) from some different areas and I learnt that there is a science, as well as an art, to jam making.
- All (or at least some) of the fruit should be slightly UNRIPE. Overripe fruit will not set, and will go off quicker AND the unripe-ness (if there is such a word) is what gives the fruit more pectin (the stuff that makes your fruit set)
- Fruit picked when wet will go mouldy quickly
- fruit should be cooked/softened BEFORE adding the sugar. I know that means a second step with the Thermomix... but gee, it isn't a trial really is it? - hit the button again.
- jam made in smaller batches with fresh fruit, or fruit that was freshly frozen, will taste better than jam made months ago - hence, small batches as you need it - OH how we love our Thermomix for that!!!.
- Jam is made from the whole fruit... the American "Jelly" is made from the juice
- You can make your own apple pectin, or pectin "stock" to help you set your fruit naturally (see reading material below)
- Mix some fruit with lower pectin with some with higher pectin to help it to set
- Most of the recipes I've read (non-thermomix ones) seem to call for warm sugar. I don't think that it is necessary with the Thermomix but the problem with "I don't think" is that we have established that I am no natural cook. Perhaps I can get some advice from any readers??
I tried the first 3 points out recently when I made some Raspberry and Plum jam. I used a mixture of slightly ripe and unripe Plums and I used frozen Raspberries. I blitzed the fruit a bit and then cooked it (until quite soft) before I added some sugar and then cooked again. I had no trouble with the fruit setting (it set even firmer when cold) and the jam seemed to need less sugar and was fruitier in taste.
LESSON: one thing I did learn, was raspberries are STRONGLY flavoured! 50:50 raspberries to plums and you can't taste the plums at all - 20-25% raspberries would have been better.