Category Archives: Jams and Jellies

Get ‘Em While They Last – Raspberries

Raspberry season winds down as we make our way into fall, so make sure you preserve what you can while they are still available fresh off the bushes, market tables, and/or grocery shelves.

If you’ve still got room for jars of jam, then you might like to try this traditional, long boil, no-added-pectin Berry Jam that has just two ingredients: berries and sugar. Combine raspberries with other berries in this recipe if you like.

Uncooked jams and jellies are easy to prepare and do a great job of preserving fresh fruit flavor. If that sounds good to you, then try Uncooked Berry Jelly or Uncooked Raspberry Jam with Fresh Fruit. Remember that uncooked jams and jellies need to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, not at room temperature.cropped jars

Another option with raspberries is to make (and boiling water bath can) Raspberry Syrup to top pancakes, ice cream, and baked goods.

 

Raspberries on trayShort on time and want to have some raspberries available for sauces, baking or making smoothies? Freeze them plain and simple, with sugar, or in sweetened syrup.

Try It: Tomato Jam

Spiced Tomato JamTomatoes may be a summertime staple, but you can turn them into an autumn (or anytime) treat by making Spiced Tomato Jam. In this recipe, traditional tomato flavor is warmed by the addition of allspice, cinnamon, and cloves, sweetened by sugar, and brightened up by lemon rind and juice. The lemon juice also helps make sure the acidity is where it needs to be to get a good gel. In addition to the ingredients mentioned, you’ll also need a box of powdered pectin.Spiced Tomato Jam Ingredients (2)

Peeling tomatoes may seem like an unimportant extra step, but the texture of the skin was determined to be undesirable and product testing did not include considerations of how the skin would alter the final product safety. So, scald, peel, and chop tomatoes as described in the procedure. Our canning recommendations are meant to be followed as written, since that is how they were developed and changing ingredients or steps may influence not only the quality but also the safety of the final product.

Complete recipe, procedure and boiling water canning process times are on the NCHFP website: Spiced Tomato Jam.

People also sometimes ask if they can use commercially canned tomatoes in our tomato recipes, but quantity, consistency, and even acidity could be different in commercially canned tomatoes as compared to fresh tomatoes, so we do not recommend using them when fresh tomatoes are called for in a canning recipe.

Wondering what to do with tomato jam? Try serving it on a crackers and cheese platters, smothered over baked brie, or as a condiment with meat dishes. It’s also nice to taste simply spread on toast!

Beaucoup Blueberries

blueberries in bowlBetween June and July chances are pretty good that you can get your hands on fresh blueberries, whether from a grocery store, a farm market, or your own backyard. People increasingly like blueberries for their nutrition and health benefits, but people have liked them for a long time just because they taste so good! Whether you prefer the larger, commonly cultivated highbush blueberries or the smaller, wild lowbush blueberries, you have many options for preserving the blueberry bounty.

Canning Whole Berries

If you like to add whole berries overtop oatmeal or if you haven’t decided exactly how you’ll use them later, then you might want to simply can Berries – Whole using a boiling water canner. You have the option to add a sugar syrup or juice to further sweeten or flavor the berries, or you can just add water, as specified in the directions.

Canning Berry Syrup

Berry Syrup can be made with or without the inclusion of whole berries, as recommended in 3crushedfruitthe directions. First you will crush then strain a juice made of the berries (setting aside 1 or 2 cups of berries to add whole, if desired), then you will heat it with sugar into a thickened syrup.

Canning Blueberry Pie Filling

For a pie filling that’s ready-to-go into the oven any time of year, prepare and can Blueberry Pie Filling. For this recipe, you will need to plan ahead to make sure you have Clear Jel® available.

rolling boil

Blueberry Jams

Blueberries are lower in natural pectin than is needed to form a good gel-structure, so you’ll add commercial pectin or combine blueberries with another, more pectin-rich fruit to make blueberry jams. There’s nothing wrong with a plain Blueberry Jam, but you could also try these varieties of blueberry jam jarsBlueberry Jams combined with other fruits and flavors: Blueberry-Spice Jam, Spiced Blueberry-Peach Jam, and Blueberry Currant Jam.

Freezing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA simple way to make those sweet berries last longer and remain versatile for purposes to be determined at a later time is to freeze them. Freeze blueberries using the tray pack method for best results. Blueberries freeze well even without sugar added, and then you don’t have to calculate that amount of added sugar into your final recipe if you decided to cook or bake with them. Remember these General Freezing Tips for Packaging and Labeling Frozen Foods.

Drying

Last but not least, you could dry blueberries into a lightweight trail-side snack or granola ingredient. Just be sure to puncture the side walls of the berries so that they do not trap in moisture and get case-hardened (use a toothpick to poke all the way through each berry before drying).blueberries on a dryer tray

To learn more about blueberries, visit our University of Georgia blueberry page, and for even more about blueberries, check out the national eXtension blueberry site.

Making the Most of Mint

If you have seen mint growing in the ground then you know – give it an inch, and it will take a yard…and perhaps the sidewalk too. What to do with all that mint? After sipping a cup of fresh mint tea, you can harvest all those leaves to make delicious mint jelly and dry them for a year’s worth of refreshing mint tea. (You may also want to dig up those plants and re-plant them into containers – mint does well in pots.)

Classic Mint Jelly requires the addition of a strongly acidic ingredient in order to produce a gel-structure, as you’ll see in our recipes for Mint Jelly (with cider vinegar) and Mint Jelly (with lemon juice). These two recipes are very similar, but the quantities of mint and water vary slightly to adjust to the required proportion of a strong acid ingredient (i.e. more vinegar than lemon juice, so less water added to the version with vinegar). Green food coloring is listed in the ingredient list for the version made with cider vinegar, but it is optional, and note that it is also optional in the recipe made with lemon juice. Mint Jelly is traditionally served with roast lamb, and it can also be mixed into other sauces and gravies.

Mint is a tender-leaf herb, which means that it has high moisture content and therefore will mold if not dried quickly. To dry mint, try hanging it inside a paper bag that has holes torn in the sides for air to circulate through. Use a rubber band to secure the base of the stems to the top do the bag. The bottom of the bag will catch the dried leaves as they fall. If you live in a region with high humidity and/or don’t have a location where air currents can pass through the bag, then you may get better results from drying leaves individually. To do so, remove leaves from the stems, space them apart on a paper towel, cover with another paper towel and layer up to 5 layers. Place the layers of paper towels and leaves in a cool oven – the oven light of an electric range or pilot light of a gas range will be enough. (Higher heat could easily burn the leaves, and the paper.) The finished, crispy dry leaves can be left whole or crumpled into an airtight storage container. Dried mint is can be substituted into recipes that call for fresh mint, using 1/3-1/4 of the amount listed.

For more information about growing and using mint, read this publication from UGA Extension: Herbs in Southern Gardens.