How to make confiture?
It’s not that hard to make a fruit confiture. We often use recipes from the internet that sometimes are not that good. So, every year, we get jams made out of the same fruit that taste and look differently.
Have you ever thought about changing your approach and finding out which ingredients you should use when making jam and why?
- 3 kg of apricots
- 2 kg of sugar
- juice from 4 small lemons
- 15 cl of homemade pectin
- Put everything together and cook until you get a gelatinous mixture described in the text.
I am like that, so, I had to look into details to understand what the purpose of every ingredient in a jam is and if I can avoid using one of them and which one it would be. All of that just to make an apricot jam exactly how I like it – light, medium thick, neither sweet nor sour. I will leave you the recipe for it at the end.
This is what I found out…
What is jam and what is extra jam?
Jam is a mixture of fruit, fruit pulp, that is, fruit puree with the addition of sugar and/or water, cooked at 103-104 °C until you get a gelatinous structure.
Extra jam is a product of an appropriate gelatinous structure made out of sugar, non-concentrated fruit pulp of one or various types of fruit, and water – the only difference is the amount of dry matter compared to the regular jam.
Industrial jam and industrial extra jam
Serbian industrial jam (it’s the same thing in France) cannot have less than 35% dry fruit matter per 1 kg of a finished product. In extra jam, there cannot be less than 45% dry fruit matter per 1 kg of a finished product.
A well balanced homemade fruit jam is…
When I say a well balanced jam I mean a jam of good consistency and well preserved. You add about 650 gr of sugar per 1 kg of fruit, without any kind of additives and artificial sweeteners.
What is pectin and what is it for?
Pectin is a dietary fiber present in cell walls of plants and, in this case, it’s used to link cells. It is mostly found in lemon peel.
Pectin’s main feature is its ability to create jelly. For this reason, it is used in the production of jam and similar products.
You can easily buy pectin or some of its products, but you can also make it at home which is much healthier.
To thicken 2kg of fruit you need about 15 cl of pectin.
Why do we add lemon when making jam?
Pectin works better with more sour fruit and those two things are closely connected. When it’s not sour enough we often add lemon juice (citric acid, but watered down – the ratio is half a teaspoon of citric acid per 4 spoons of water).
Lemon juice and/or acid prevents oxidation and blackening of fruit, as well as crystallization of sugar over time.
FRUIT PECTIN QUANTITY SOURNESS
SMALL MEDIUM LARGE WEAK MEDIUM STRONG
APRICOTS X X
CHERRIES X X
LEMON X X
CLEMENTINES X X
FIGS X X
STRAWBERRIES X X
RASPBERRIES X X
CURRANTS X X
BLACKBERRIES X X
BLUEBERRIES X X
PEAR X X
APPLE X X
PLUM X X
TOMATO X X
How to make a homemade pectin?
1 kg of apples (the ones that fell on the ground are the best)
Wash the apples, cut and cook them together with their seeds and with water in a pot. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes more.
Strain everything through a gauze, separate fruit pulp and fruit juice. Then, put the fruit juice in a pot and heat it up until the amount of liquid reduces and starts congealing.
When and why do you need to add water when making jam?
Water should be added when dealing with fruit that’s not rich with water, for example plums, raspberries, blackberries… You shouldn’t do it with peaches, cherries and strawberries.
To release water from fruit, it’s best to leave the fruit to rest after adding sugar. In this way, it will release a certain amount of water and you will be able to decide whether you need to add more or not.
When is jam finished?
It’s best to decide by testing it. Take the jam with a teaspoon and put it on a plate. If it is watery and slides on the plate fast, it means that it is not done. The jam needs to stay put on the plate or slide very slowly. It must not spread.
Some simple jam recipes
FOR 1KG OF FRUIT SUGAR LEMON JUICE HOMEMADE PECTIN
STRAWBERRIES 650 gr 1 10 cl
APRICOTS 750 gr 2 5 cl
PEACHES 750 gr 1 5 cl
CHERRIES 650 gr 1 10 cl
PEARS 650 gr 2 20 cl
RASPBERRIES 700 gr 1
* lemon juice – number of lemons you need to squeeze to get the juice
How to store jam?
I don’t think I need to write much about how the jars you need to pour the jam in (not lower than 80°C) need to be perfectly clean. Fill the jar with cooked jam almost to the top – two fingers from the top, close the jar well and turn it upside down. Leave it upside down for a while – the best would be until the jam cools down. This is to vacuum the jar naturally and release the excess air.
Do not put the jar in the oven after this.
Problems that can occur and how to get rid of them
If the jam does not congeal well, that means that we don’t have enough pectin in it and you need to buy a ready pectin mixture.
If the jam darkens and tastes like caramel – this means that it was overcooked. There is nothing you can do here, it will not go bad, but next time you should use thermometer and verify that the temperature during cooking is
If you can taste alcohol in it – you need to cook the jam for a bit longer.
If the sugar crystallizes – the fruit is not sour enough. You should add lemon juice and cook the jam again.
If mildew appears it means that some of the tools we used for cooking were not sterilized enough, that is, clean enough. Take the mildew off, cook the jam until the first bubble appears and transfer it into new and clean jars.
If mildew appears in already opened jars, it’s because the teaspoon you used to take the jam was in contact with bread. Take the mildew off and use up the jam as soon as possible.