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Monday, September 24, 2012

Homemade Jam and Jelly...

54 degrees - 10:05am - slightly overcast...

We took a quick trip over to my Aunt's
house to pick some Concord Grapes
to make the Grape Jelly.
Ever since I can remember, my mom, sister and I have been making homemade jam.  We all get together a few times a year and have a jam-in.  That’s what we did this weekend and it resulted in 76 jars of jam and jelly.  We made 5 batches of freezer Raspberry Jam, 5 batches of freezer Strawberry Jam, 4 batches of freezer Grape Jelly, 2 batches of Raspberry-Lime Jam (first time ever and has now become a new favorite!), 2 batches of cooked Raspberry Jam, and 2 batches of cooked Strawberry Jam.

In our opinion, once you have had good homemade jam or jelly, you will never go back to store bought jams or jellies again!  It is so good, that we go through it pretty quickly, which is why we make so much every time.  And if you’re wondering, you usually make way more freezer jam than cooked jam, even though it does take up precious freezer space.

Of course there are pros and cons to everything and that includes homemade jams and jellies.  Here are some pros and cons for freezer jam vs. cooked jam.

Pros of Freezer Jam:
-Very easy to make with little or no cooking involved depending on the type of pectin used.
-The jam will taste much more like fresh berries or fruit.
-The color of the jam is more like the true color of the fruit used to make the jam.
-Not a lot of time involved.
-With the same amount of berries, you get more jam.
-Uses less sugar since it isn’t needed as a preservative, just as a sweetener.
-You can use any type of stackable containers rather than just glass jars, since the containers don’t need to “seal”.

Cons of Freezer Jam:
-Takes up freezer space.
-Difficult to give as a gift or ship since it requires refrigeration.
-Can make a mess in your freezer if you over fill your jars or containers since the jam expands a little during the freezing process.
-Sometimes it doesn’t set up quite as well as cooked jam.

Pros of Cooked Jam:
-Will keep in your pantry or cupboards for a long time without refrigeration.
-Sets up very well, and often has a thicker and more jam like consistency.
-Nice as gifts and easily shipped to friends or loved ones.

Cons of Cooked Jam:
-More time consuming than making freezer jam.
-Need to be very careful during the process so that your jars seal properly, otherwise the jam will not keep.
-Requires more sugar than a freezer jam.
-Less natural fruit taste than a freezer jam.

To sum it up, we like and make some of both for our family.  Whichever you choose to make, follow the directions carefully, but don’t worry!  Jam is not hard to make.  With a little work, you will be enjoying a wonderful treat all year long!

We loved the Raspberry-Lime Freezer Jam so much, that I just had to share the recipe with you!

~Raspberry-Lime Freezer Jam~
4 cups crushed raspberries
1 ½ cup sugar
1 package Sure-Jell
Zest of 2 small limes

Wash and rinse 3 1-pint jars with tight fitting lids.

To crush the raspberries, use a potato masher for best results.  If using a food processor, pulse to very finely chop.  {Note: Do Not Puree!  Jam should have bits of fruit it in!}

Measure exact amount of fruit and exact amount of sugar in separate bowls.  {Note: Reducing sugar or using sugar substitutes will result in set failures.  If you want less sugar try Sure-Jell for Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes Fruit Pectin for no or low sugar jams and jellies.}

Add the zest of 2 small limes to the crushed raspberries and mix well.  Stir in sugar into the rasp-lime mixture.  Mix well.  Let it sit for 10 minutes; stirring occasionally.

Stir 1 box pectin and ¾ cup water in small saucepan.  (Pectin may start out lumpy.)  Bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly.  Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.

Stir pectin mixture into fruit mixture.  Stir constantly until sugar is completely dissolved and no longer grainy, about 3 minutes.  (A few sugar crystals may remain.)

Pour into prepared containers, leaving 1/2-inch space at top for expansion during freezing.  Make sure the rims are clean of any spill and screw the lids on tight.

Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours until set.  Refrigerate up to 3 weeks, otherwise, store in freezer for up to 1 year.  Thaw in refrigerator.


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