While none of my past jams or jellies (see Triple Berry Jam, Grape Jelly and Cherry, Plum and Raspberry Jam) was a failure; they were all delicious. Each of my past recipe was hampered by the exact same issue: the results were always a little too runny. I either added too little sugar or mis-estimated the correct amount of pectin based upon the combination of fruit. I finally resigned myself to the impossibility of using regular pectin; it just isn’t for me. So, I switched to Low-Sugar Pectin, which doesn’t require a precise ratio of sugar and acid in order to thicken. While harder to find (I had to order over internet), it’s perfect for those who don’t want super-sweet jam. Finally; 5-stars; the jam taste like fruit rather than just sugar.
- If you do decide to use regular pectin; always follow the specific recipe for correct gelling. Every fruit requires a different proportion of pectin, sugar and lemon juice. If something is even slightly off (or if you over-or-under-cook it), it will be runny. If the fruit was picked too early on the farm. the jam may not set. While Ball’s (the mason jar company) pectin-calculator is a big help, but it requires using a single fruit to get accurate results.
- While I love blackberries; be careful because they can add too many seeds.
- If you live more than 1000-feet above see level, you should adjust your processing time in Step 9 based upon your altitude. More or less; add 1 minute per 1000 ft. in elevation.
Cost: $12 for 5 pints of jam; about 5 pounds.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time 6:00 PM. Finish time 8:30pm
3 pounds Cherries
3/4 pounds dark-skinned plums (about 4)
3/4 pounds blackberries
4-1/2 cups granulated sugar (2 pounds)
2 tablespoons red wine
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup low-sugar pectin
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- Run jars through dishwasher on high heat, using a heated dry cycle. Wash the screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Bring a saucepan to a boil, remove from heat for five minutes and add flat lids with the wax seal upwards. Allow to stand in hot water until ready to use; which will soften the wax used to seal the lids.
- Bring large pot full of water to a light boil. In my case, I use two Dutch ovens instead of one large pot, because my jars don’t fit in pot. These will be used to process the jam after sealing the jars. Put a wire rack on the bottom of the pot to prevent the jars from coming in contact with excessive heat from the burner, otherwise the bottom of the jar may break. Once boiling, reduce burner to maintain a simmer.
- Sterilize your jars by placing them in the hot canning water for 10 minutes above 185-degrees. Leave your jars in the hot canning water until you are ready to fill them so they remain sterile and hot, but be sure to completely drain jars well before filling.
- Meanwhile Pit the cherries. Quarter and pit the plums. Finely chop all fruit. Place four small spoons and a plate in the freezer (for Step 8).
- Combine plums, cherries, blackberries and lemon juice into an 6 to 8 quart pot. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes until juices form, stirring occasionally.
- Increase burner to medium/high. Uncover and add pectin and bring to a full boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred); about 20 minutes longer.
- Add in sugar and return the jam to a boil. Once it has returned to a full boil, continue boiling for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- The temperature should register 220-degrees. To test if the jam is ready, scoop a little jam onto a frozen spoon. Return to the freezer, and wait 1 minute. Remove spoon from freezer, and gently nudge the edge of the jam with one finger. If the jam is ready, it will wrinkle slightly when pushed. If it is not ready, it will be too thin to wrinkle. If the jam does not wrinkle on the first attempt, cook two or three minutes more, and repeat the gel test.
- Remove the pot of jam from heat, skim off any foam. Using canning tongs to remove a jar from the simmering water, and empty the water back into the pot. Ladle jam into hot jars (use a canning funnel if you have it); filling to within 1/4 inch of tops. Wipe the jar rims and threads with a slightly damp paper towel; otherwise the jar will not properly seal. Top the jar with two piece lids and finger-tighten, being careful not to force the lid.
- Using canning tongs to put back into simmering water. Process closed jars in hot water bath for 10 minutes (adjusted for altitude); start timing as soon as water returns to boil. Water must cover jars by 1 inch. Add boiling water, if necessary. Try to ensure that the jars aren’t touching the sides of pot and are spaced 1″ apart.
- Remove jars and place upright on a towel or wire rack to cool completely; 24 hours. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (Once cooled, if lids spring back when pushed down then they are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary. Put any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use first. ) Store jam in a cool, dark place up to 1 year.