Thursday, 16 April 2015

Jam - King of Taste

While the commercial jams are too sickly sweet and an overdose of sugar, homemade jams can actually be blissfully delectable. Jam making did not start in food factories but is a century old method invented in homes. You can rediscover the old magic of fresher and tastier fruits with the process of jamming. It’s a process for enjoying fruits far longer than their normal shelf life. It’s especially functional for fruits that are either seasonal or costly in the market. You need not be a culinary proficient to prepare jams and jellies. It’s a very basic method with some skill that lets you enjoy the citrus magic of any fruit at any time of the year. The right blend of sugar, pectin and acid gives you the perfect jam. While some call it an art, it’s a little science too. The crucial ingredient in any jam is the pectin. They are large molecules that connect together to make gel. Apples and berries have plenty of pectin but other fruits that are low on pectin need artificial pectin for jamming. Acid further adds to the gelling capacity of the fruit. You need to add lemon juice in order to provide high acidity environment for the pectin to perform well.

How to make jam
Cardinally jam requires equal weight of sugar and fruit. Too much fruit might hamper the preserving effect while excess sugar crystallizes or even make it overly sweet. Select either just ripe or unripe fruit for jamming. Remove the seeds or stones from the fruit and puree it. Slowly heat and let it come to a boiling temperature. Fruits with high pectin or high acidity do not require any lemon or pectin. For medium acidic or low acidic fruits, there is a need to add lemon juice and pectin. Pectin is readily available in the market with clear instructions on quantity to be used. Now you may slowly add sugar and but do not stir. It will gradually come to a boil and you can feel the sweet aroma filling the kitchen. This is when you know your jam is nearly done. Let it cool and crystallize before you start filling in jars. Cover it properly and your jam is all ready to be savored.

How to make preserves
Fruits are acidic by nature making them compliant to preservation. Technically speaking, the acidity retards microbial growth and activate pectin set which further reduces bacterial activity.
Dehydration remains the most common method of preserving. Once moisture is driven off, the microorganisms cannot flourish. Basic methods of dehydration are sun-drying, freeze-drying and hot-air drying. Dehydration has edge over other methods as it is uncompromising on the nutritive value of the fruits and vegetables. It enhances the shelf life and makes storage handy. Additionally, one needs chemical process to deactivate the enzymes and prevent browning.

Thermal process in which heat is used to destroy the enzymes is also commonly used in canning. Another alternative could be chemical preservation wherein artificial substance is added to delay the maturing of food items. However, the nourishment and vitality of the food item is altered under each of these methods.

Corn Cob Jelly
If you think jelly is all about fruits and berries, it’s time to relook into your culinary knowledge. While you are already freezing so much corn every year, how about making a jelly out of it.
Ingredients that you need
-                            -  1 box pectin
-                            -  12 corn on the cobs
-                            -  1 tsp lemon juice
-                            -   3.5 cups sugar

Start by cooking the corns for about 5 minutes. Once the kernels are soft, you can easily cut them off the cob.

Place the cobs in a pot with water. Ensure the water covers the cobs and let it boil for an hour. After boiling the liquid should reduce. You need to have 3.5 cups of water for each batch.

Add the flavoring of your choice now and let it heat a little more. Now add 3.5 cups of sugar and let it boil. Add pectin now and let it boil a little more.

Just pour them into the canning jars leaving about .5 inch space on top. Put the seal and lid after 
cleaning the jar’s rim. Add to the water bath canner and you need to process it for 10 min.

Let it cool and your flavored corn cob jelly is ready to use. 

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