Jam / Conserve Questions
Posted: 17 April 2008 07:44 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi folks, there have been a number of questions and comments on jams and conserves over on Rose’s Blog under Cake Questions Too. I thought I’d move them over to the forum and see what develops.

Here’s the discussion so far:

I am a bit puzzled with Cordon Rose Strawberry Conserve. It turns out pretty thin and watery. I use frozen strawberries (California premium). Is this happening because I don’t let the strawberries completely thaw and drain its juices? I thaw until the frozen strawberries become bite able but firm, and there is very little juice drained. Should I instead thaw until mush so there is more juice collected thus faster to reduce?
A week after canned, the conserve thickens, but still not too much.
Also, do you blend or strain the conserve or just leave the strawberries whole?
Posted by:  Hector |  April 16, 2008 1:45 PM #

or should the recipe be changed? strawberries now look so giant and full of water more than anything!
Posted by:  Hector |  April 16, 2008 1:50 PM #

haven’t made this for a long time but i always let berries thaw completely when using frozen berries so i’m sure this would help. i don’t do anything other than what i wrote in the cake bible.
Posted by:  rose levy beranbaum |  April 16, 2008 2:02 PM #

Hector,
I let my frozen strawberries thaw overnight in a strainer over a bowl in the oven with the pilot light on. This works really well for me b/c they never seem to thaw quickly enough during the day when I’m waiting for them! I leave them as is after cooking them down.
They are extremely large, you are right, nowadays. One of the fruits with the largest water content. As my very healthy friend comments, too, unfortunately we grow them out here (CA) with a ton of pesticides, etc., which makes that water content even more relevant….but for another discussion… smile
Hope you get them to gel a bit more. They are so incredible!
Posted by:  Cathy |  April 16, 2008 8:00 PM #

I just thought of a hint for those who are making conserves or jam. I have found that once you reduce the juices from the frozen/thawed or briefly cooked fruit, it helps if you combine fruit, reduced juice and most of the sugar. Pour into a large non-reactive bowl or pan and let them sit overnight or a bit longer in the refrigerator, covered.
The fruit tends to give up some of its color along with the juices. The “resting” period allows the fruit to reabsorb the concentrated juice & sugar blend, which really helps the flavor, color and consistency of the jam.
I generally use less sugar in jams, so I need to add some no-sugar pectin to get a complete jell. I reserve about 1/4 cup of sugar per 4 cup batch of jam. After the jam has “rested,” bring it back up to a boil, and add the pectin mixed with the reserved sugar. Then process it as you usually do (can, freeze, or whatever).
I think I got this resting idea from an Farm Journal cookbook although I can’t quite recall. Anyway, it has worked well for me.
Posted by:  Barbara A. |  April 16, 2008 11:53 PM

Thanks Barb!
I would love to learn how to can or jar preserves. Are their such a thing as Fig preserves? My fig tree/bush is filled every year and I need to figure out how to make use of them. ..although this year I plan on selling them fresh picked at the Farmer’s Market.
Is preserve/jam making difficult?
Posted by:  MarkMc |  April 17, 2008 12:28 AM

Barbara, thanks for sharing your tip, should help me.
It sounds almost like not consuming your canned conserves for a few months, it does flavor and gel more during this ‘rest’
Posted by:  Hector |  April 17, 2008 1:38 PM

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Posted: 17 April 2008 07:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Mark,

Canning is not difficult, although I find it a bit time consuming and it does require some special equipment. You can always make freezer jams instead.

The “Ball Blue Book” is a great resource on canning how-to and recipes. It’s not all that expensive, either. My other most-used canning book is “Summer in a Jar” by Andrea Chesman. It has good information on using a steam canner (which is what I use) and some nice recipes. I often use added pectin, usually Pomona’s Universal Pectin, and there are a number of recipes inside the package. I just got a package of Ball Natural Gel No Sugar Needed Pectin, we’ll see how that one works too.

Special equipment needed:
1) either a water-bath canning kettle, or a steam canner.
2) canning jars
3) canning jar lids with rings. (The rings can be re-used, but the lids are one-use-only.)
4) wide-mouthed canning funnel
5) jar lifter

Equipment you probably have already:
1) pan for cooking jam in
2) pan for letting lids/rings sit in hot water in
3) ladle
4) dish towels & cloths
5) Sharpie permanent pen to write on the top of the jars

Optional but useful:
1) nice-looking labels for the jars
2) magnetic lid lifter to lift lids out of hot water (although you can also use tongs)
3) plastic lids to fit canning jars after you have opened them
4) low-sugar or no-sugar pectin if that’s the sort of recipe you want to do

I often do my jam-making in staqes.

First stage, extract juice from fruit as in Rose’s recipe and reduce it, then combine fruit, sugar & juice and refrigerate.

Second stage, finish the jam and can it. Heat up water in canner, wash & sterilize jars, wash lids & rings & set in hot water.
Heat up fruit mixture, add sugar, lemon juice and pectin as needed. Ladle hot jam into jars, wipe rims, put on lids & rings & tighten, put in canner. Take out and let cool overnight. Remove rings. Label and store.

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Posted: 17 April 2008 10:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Mark, I found this recipe for fig jam on Epicurious. I haven’t made it but I have made Martha Stewart’s fig spread recipe.

http://www.marthastewart.com/fig-spread?autonomy_kw=fig jam&rsc=header_3

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/108952

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Posted: 18 April 2008 09:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I am mezmorized by Nigella… can’t help but watch/listen to her, but I’ve never made any of her recipes (you know how you can just tell ahead of time whether a recipe is worth the effort?  well, I’ve never been inclined to give hers a try).  Great show though!

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Posted: 18 April 2008 09:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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MarkMc - 18 April 2008 12:54 PM

No one eats food better. The Sophia Loren of souffl?s.

LOL!!!

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Posted: 18 April 2008 10:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Mark, you are too funny. I do miss the Two Fat Ladies. I used to be a big Martha Stewart fan until I “met” Rose. Did you know that Nigella was voted the third(I think) most sexy female in England. I think Princess Diana was voted #1 (of course)!

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Posted: 18 April 2008 11:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Oh I agree….......a dessert show would be awesome…......with Rose hosting it. Pure heaven! I never saw her series Baking Magic. Did you?

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Posted: 18 April 2008 01:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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MarkMc - 18 April 2008 01:40 PM

They have yet to create a good show dedicated to desserts!

Food Network has had a few dessert shows over the years… Sugar Rush I didn’t care for, neither did I like Sweet Dreams.  However there were a couple of good ones in the past - one with Marcel Desaulniers, and the other with Jaques Tores (both chocolate gurus).  Ace of cakes was promising at first, but now it’s all about the staff and not really enough emphasis on the actual cakes (and they rarely show the cake stuff I want to see - the “how-to” stuff).

I long for a good baking show on the Food Network… I have a few other ideas for them too, but they’ll have to contact me to find out what they are…. it would be good if they asked!
wink

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Posted: 18 April 2008 02:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I used to love the Jacques Torres show but I have never seen the Marcel Desaulniers show.

Mark, I love the name Food (ha!) Network. Hilarious!

Patricia, maybe you should contact the Food (ha!) Network with your ideas.

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Posted: 18 April 2008 02:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I’ve been watching the food network since before it was called the food network.  I watched Barbara Kafka and David Rosengarten way back when (I’m not obsessed or anything, really I’m not).

I know what you mean about SL - she has quite a following, but not my kind of cooking show at all.  I love Ina, Giada (the older, not newer recipes), Tyler, Ellie, etc… real cooks/chefs who make good food.  There are so many more cooking ideas they could have on that network.

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Posted: 20 April 2008 07:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I’ve had some delicious successes with several of the recipes from one of Nigella Lawson’s books - what she refers to as “pizza rustica” and some of the desserts from “How to be a Domestic Goddess” - but I didn’t have good luck at all with the bread recipes from that book. However, I did use the recipe for peach-currant jam, which turned out very nicely.

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