Slow Jam: Cooking jam without pectin

18 08 2009

Before powdered and liquified pectin, jam makers slow-cooked jam long enough for it to reach a jellying point (8-10 degrees above the temperature where water would boil.) At sea level, water boils at 212 degrees F. and the jellying point of liquids is around 220 degrees F.

Sugars and sweet syrups along with a small amount of acid in each recipe helped the jellying process and helped preserve the jams. But some fruits naturally contain more pectin than others (apples, crabapples, gooseberries, some varieties of plums, high-bush cranberries.) Underripe fruits always contain more pectin than their fully-ripe versions. 3pears_flickr

Often, slow-cooked jams combine a high pectin fruit with a lower pectin fruit to firm up the jam. Cranberries, one of my favorite fruits, contain so much natural pectin that most will jell on their own when boiled without the addition of extra sugar. My pear honey recipe, inspired by a ‘Reba’s Pear Honey’ variation originally printed in the Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook uses a small amount of fresh (or frozen) whole cranberries and their natural pectin to make a firmer spread. Enjoy!

Pear-Orange Honey with Cranberries

4 cup peeled and finely chopped pears

1 small orange, finely chopped (fruit, juice and peel – about 2/3 cup)

2/3 cup of whole washed and stemmed cranberries (about ½ cup finely chopped)

¼ teaspoon kosher or coarse salt

  • Using a food mill* or processor with a coarse blade, finely chop or grind the peeled pears and the orange together.
  • Put the fruit in a heavy saucepan along with the sugar and salt and cook slowly over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves.
  • Once the sugar is dissolved, cook at a slow boil about 15 minutes or until fruits in mixture are clear and the thick syrup from their juices reaches the jellying point.
  • Pour into hot, sterilized jars and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner according to USDA recommendations.
  • Makes 2 ½ pints (five 8-oz jars) of fruit honey
1950s Foley food mill

1950s Foley food mill

* To finely chop the fruits, you can use the modern day food-processor, or a farm-kitchen standard, the food mill. Mirro/Foley now make a stainless steel version of the traditional red-handled Foley Food Mill which is available in many hardware stores for $30-35.

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2 responses

20 09 2009
Computers & Tech

Hi there,
Great site, I just stumbled upon it and I’m already a fan.

25 10 2009
Double Jam: Pears two (more) ways « Kitchen Jam

[…] on my list to try with the dark-ripened fruit that is the last of the pear harvest, along with my Pear-Orange Honey. But for my first batch of 2009 pears, I wanted a simpler pear recipe, something slow-cooked […]

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