PASCALE's KITCHEN: Making jam with summer fruits

It’s so exciting when summer fruits finally start appearing in markets. All these colorful, juicy fruits – nectarines, peaches, plums, apricots – are so enticing.

By
July 3, 2019 21:18
PASCALE's KITCHEN: Making jam with summer fruits

Making jam. (photo credit: PASCALE PERETZ-RUBIN AND DROR KATZ)

It’s so exciting when summer fruits finally start appearing in markets. All these colorful, juicy fruits – nectarines, peaches, plums, apricots – are so enticing. Usually the apricots are the first to appear and announce to us that spring is officially over.
In the middle of the season, when the fruits are at their best, I go to the shuk (or sometimes an air-conditioned store – hey! It’s hot out) and buy huge amounts of seasonal summer fruits.

Apricots are one of my favorites. I love them large or small, light, dark yellow or orange. Sometimes they’re soft, other times hard as a rock. Apricot season is super-short, so as soon as I see them, I go out and buy a huge amount and begin plans to make apricot jam.

I like to make one batch of pure apricot jam and another of mixed fruit jam made with a random combination of apricots, peaches, nectarines and sometimes even a couple of apples. I always add in a sprig of thyme, rosemary or vanilla stick.

This year, I also received a delivery of gorgeous cherries from Moshav Netua, which is situated in the Upper Galilee, and so I immediately set about making cherry jam.

Some jams are silky smooth and are perfect for spreading on a slice of fresh bread. Other jams are syrupy and include pieces of fruits and herbs. What’s nice is that we can enjoy these jams all year long, or at least until we run out of the jars we prepared.
Below I’ve listed a few guidelines to help you prepare jams, and also five different jam recipes.

Basic rules of thumb when preparing jams:
Making jam is the easiest way to preserve fruits, and jam can be made with almost any type of fruit. You do, however, need to pay attention throughout all of the stages to make sure things are progressing properly.

To get jam to set, you can add pectin, a naturally occurring substance found in apples and other fruit that when heated together with sugar causes the jam to thicken. This allows you to use less sugar, cook the jam for less time, and prevents mold from developing. Sometimes you need to alter the level of acidity, either by adding more lemon juice or more fruit that is rich in pectin (such as apples). Alternatively, you can add more liquid pectin. Just be aware that adding pectin means you’re adding more sugar.
To check the texture and thickness of the jam, it’s best to use a sugar thermometer.

If you don’t have one, you can dunk a metal spoon into the jam and then lift it out. The jam should fall off the spoon in globs and not be too liquid. You can also put some of the jam on a cold plate and let it cool down for a few minutes. Then, press on it with your finger and check how rubbery it feels or what kind of dent you make. If you’re more experienced, you can stick your fingers into the jam, take a little on your fingers, and then check if a film forms when your spread your fingers apart.

Sterilization and hygiene:
• Don’t use any pieces of fruit that show signs of decomposition.
• Use only canning jars that have a proper sealing mechanism.
• To make sure a jar stays sterile, after filling it with jam, wipe the edges clean with a wet cloth and then place a circle of wax paper (or plastic wrap) on top of the jam before sealing.
• If you’re making a small amount of jam for immediate use, you can use jars that have been cleaned normally.
• If you’re preparing a large amount of jam, the jars should first be sterilized by placing them for 10 minutes in an oven that’s been heated to 160°C (320°F). Let the jars cool before filling with jam.
• Once a jar of jam has been opened, it should be stored in the fridge.

Solutions to mishaps that occur during cooking process:
• To alter the consistency of your jam, you can add store-bought pectin, fruit or lemon juice.
• If the color of the fruit darkens, then you’ve overcooked the jam (and the sugar has begun to caramelize).
• If some of the fruit pieces are floating on top, give the jam more time to set.
• If the jam is too thick, you can melt it by steaming it or putting it in the microwave.
• If the jam is too liquid, you can strain the fruit pieces and continue cooking only the liquid. Afterward, mix the fruit back in.


NECTARINE JAM (Credit: PASCALE PERETZ-RUBIN AND DROR KATZ)


APRICOT JAM
Makes 1 to 1.5 liters.

1¼ kg. ripe apricots
Juice from 1 lemon
3 thin lemon slices
3 thin orange slices
1½ cups water
1 kg. sugar
1 sprig of rosemary or thyme

Cut the apricots in half, remove the pits and place in a bowl. Pour the lemon juice on top and mix well. Add the lemon and orange slices.
Pour the water into a large pot and then add the sugar. Stir. Cook over a low flame until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and then add the apricot halves. Turn up the flame to high and bring to a boil. Add the rosemary or thyme and cook for 30 minutes until the jam begins to set. Stir every so often. Cook until jam reaches desired consistency. Let the jam cool and then remove the lemon and orange slices. Pour into jars, cover with wax paper and then hermetically seal jars.

KIWI JAM (Credit: PASCALE PERETZ-RUBIN AND DROR KATZ)



CHERRY JAM

Make sure to wash and clean cherries before you begin. You can cook cherries with or without the pits.
Makes 1 to 1½ liters.

1½ cups water
1 kg. sugar
Juice from 1 large lemon
2 packets of vanilla sugar or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
2-3 clove buds
1 kg. red or light cherries, cleaned

Pour a cup of water into a large pot and add the sugar. Cook for five minutes until sugar dissolves. Add the lemon juice, the rest of the water, the vanilla, cloves and cherries. Mix and cook over a medium flame for 15 minutes, while watching carefully to make sure the jam doesn’t become rubbery.
Let the jam cool and then pour half of it into jars. Remove the pits from the rest of the cherries and then blend cherries with a hand blender. Pour blended jam into jars. Don’t forget to use wax paper and close jars hermetically.

KIWI JAM

Kiwi jam is wonderfully simple to make. You can either blend it or leave the pieces in their entirety.
Makes 1 liter.

1 kg. kiwis
2 cups water
700 g. sugar
1 tsp. brandy
½ vanilla stick or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Juice from 2 medium lemons

Peel the kiwis and rinse them well. You can leave them whole, slice them or cut them into quarters.
Pour the water into a large pot. Add the sugar, brandy, vanilla and lemon juice. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the fruit pieces and continue cooking for 60-90 minutes, stirring continuously until jam becomes rubbery. If the jam has not reached the ultimate consistency, you can add the juice from half a lemon and continue cooking for 15-30 more minutes uncovered. Let cool a bit and then pour into jars. Cover with wax paper and seal hermetically.

CHERRY JAM (Credit: PASCALE PERETZ-RUBIN AND DROR KATZ)

PLUM OR NECTARINE JAM
Makes 1 liter.

1½ kg. plums or nectarines
3 cups sugar
1½ cups water

Rinse the plums or nectarines, slice them in half and remove the pits.
Pour the water and sugar into a pot and cook for 20 minutes. Add the plums or nectarines and cook over a medium flame until the mixture turns brown or black, about 75 to 90 minutes. Let cool and then transfer to jars. Cover with wax paper and seal hermetically.

APRICOT JAM (Credit: PASCALE PERETZ-RUBIN AND DROR KATZ)

PEACH JAM
You can use any type of peach or nectarine. Don’t use fruit that is overripe.
Makes 1-1½ liters.

1¼ kg. peaches, ripe and firm
1 kg. sugar
Juice from 2 medium lemons
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. ground ginger or thyme
3 Tbsp. brandy

Peel the peaches (you can poach them for 30 seconds, which will make it easier to remove the skin). Cut them into quarters or large pieces and remove the pits. Place the fruit, sugar and lemon juice in a large pot and let the mixture sit for two hours.
Cook the peaches over a low flame for 30 to 45 minutes until they’ve softened. Add the vanilla and ginger and continue to cook over a high flame while stirring constantly until it reaches desired consistency.
Remove from the flame, scrape off any foam that has formed and let cool for 10 minutes. Stir and add the brandy. Pour into jars, cover with wax paper and seal hermetically.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.

Text and styling: Pascale Perez-Rubin



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