Monday, 27 October 2014

nectarine jam!~

more nectarines!!!
     so, i decided to give jam a try too!  & nectarines seemed like the perfect fruit to do it with.  In my typical style i did research!  Using good old pinterest i must have looked at, gosh, at least 20 different nectarine or nectarine blend jam recipes.  Most of them were quite similar; fruit + sugar + lemon juice + pectin.
     From the start i had decided that i did not want to use pectin, one of the very first recipes i had seen had not used it so i knew it could be done!  Also from very early on i decided that i wanted to use a maceration technique.  This i had only seen on a few pages & knew about from other non jam related baking & cooking & just seemed to me like a good idea.  From the few pages that did use maceration it seemed like it required less sugar in the total recipe which was also something that i was looking for.  So, no pectin, low sugar, those were my 2 main goal, oh yeah, i also wanted to use lime instead of lemon because i had a whole bowl of limes on hand!  None of the recipes that i saw used lime! but i knew it could be done, lime is slightly more acidic than lemon & can be easily substituted in canning, i read this when helping my sister make salsa earlier in the year!
     I had looked at many many different blogs & recipe pages & the amount of sugar to fruit to lemon to pectin varied greatly, so i made my own recipe.  I did not want to add a lot of sugar & i feel that the maceration technique is useful for this (weather this is scientifically correct or not i am sure, but it seems logical) by allowing the fruit to sit and bring out the natural sugars you dont need so much added sugar.  What do i mean by maceration?  Maceration is the process where the sugar (or the syrup the sugar forms on the fruit) breaks down the fruit before you start using it in the jam making process.   I mainly used the process (but not the recipe) described in Prospect: The Pantry's Nectarine Vannila Jam's recipe, i found the page very helpful & informative, so yay! for that.
     For the recipe i needed a combination of nectarine, sugar & lime juice, i decided on 0.8cups sugar & 18mL to every pound of fruit.  (how did i get that?  i figured out the ratio of a crap load of different recipes got rid of the extremes & created an average i was happy with, yeah, its the math-sciencey part of me)
     For this batch i had 7 nectarines!  cut up that equaled 3.15lbs or 1.8kg, so about 2.5cups of sugar & 57mL of lime, 2limes happens to be 60mL perfect! 

      I had my bowl of cut up nectarines, poured the sugar over top & sprinkled the lime juice on & mixed it up a bit.  One way to add a bit of an extra pectin boost is to add the peels & seeds of the lime or lemon you use, i was ready to make a little cheesecloth bag for my lime peel & seeds to stick in with my nectarines during the maceration process but my limes had no seeds, so instead i just stuck the whole lime halves right in there!  I covered the top with wax paper.  I left it on the shelf for a few hours & then stuck it in the fridge overnight after i had a chance to clean out a spot to fit the big bowl!  If you are letting the fruit sit overnight you should refrigerate it.

    Almost 24hours later is when i got a chance to work on this again & it looked like this!  I dont know if the picture is very telling but the nectarine pieces are now swimming in a bowl full of syrupy goodness!
     I drained out the liquid, i had 3cups of it!  As per the instructions on the Prospect: The Pantry site, i worked with just the liquid first.  However, unlike that site (it said under 5min), it took me much much longer.  I had the liquid on med-low heat for 15min and it still had not boiled so i turned it up to med. & after 15 more min it just started to boil!  i turned it up a bit higher to let it boil and after about 8min removed it to do a spoon test.
     The spoon test is a way to determine the jelling of your jam.  To my understanding it works like this:  beforehand you place some spoons in the freezer (because you are gonna probably need more than one), when you think your jam might be ready you get a spoon and place a bit of jam on the spoon, stick it back in the freezer for a min or two till the jam has cooled to room temp. & if it is jelled then it is pretty much good to go, if it is still runny then it needs to be cooked more.

My liquid was jelling pretty good so i returned it to the heat & added the remaining fruit!  I was left with 5.5 cups of fruit after the maceration.  After about about 8min it started to boil again.
     At this point i reduced the heat a bit and started to mash up the fruit with a potato masher.  I wanted my jam to remain chunky though, so not too much mashing!  It turned into this beautiful amazing red colour!  After about another 8min i took it off the heat to do another spoon test & it tested pretty good!  One thing that a lot of sites mentioned that did not happen at all for me was a layer of foam forming on the top of the jam while it cooked, if this happens you are supposed to just skim it off at the end.
     Canning time!     I had bought these tiny little jars from dollarama.  They are "frutta del prato" jars, i think they are about 125mL?  maybe a different odd type size?  They came in a package of 4 for $2 & are a single piece lid with (i assume) plastisol.  The canning process for these jars is pretty much the same as for 2 piece lids except there is just the one piece & in the middle there is a little indent that pops up when you open it to show that the seal is broken (like store bought jars).  I ended up with 8 little jars of jam!  However, 3 of them did not seal for me at all.

*** 1 jar suddenly unsealed several days later!  my mom happened to be near by & heard a pop & went to investigate or else we might not have realized it until it was too late.  she just stuck it into the fridge to be eaten right away!***

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