Sunday, July 24, 2011

Jam-making day

Too damn hot and humid to be outside today, so I'm enjoying the day in the air-conditioned kitchen.  I made some amatriciana sauce yesterday (that's a tomato sauce made with bacon or pancetta and lots of onions; recipe to come), and a summer-fruit pandowdy.  I bought 5 pounds of apricots at Gentile's Produce Market last week, planning to make a pot of jam.  Today was the day.

I always refer to a favorite website when I'm making jam -- The National Center for Home Food Preservation.  The Center is part of the University of Georgia's Extension Service and the US Department of Agriculture.  A resource of remarkable depth.

The recipe I used today was for the fruit jam without added pectin.

Jam-making is not difficult, but it does require a few specialized tools -- a canning funnel, a jar-lifter, and a candy/deep-fat thermometer at the minimum.  You also need a big stockpot in which to do the sterilizing and hot-packing.  I have a pair of long leather barbecue gloves that I find very handy, too, to handle the hot jars. 

One of the pleasures of apricot jam is that the flavor of fresh apricots is made much more prominent when confected into a jam.  Also, apricots do not need to be peeled when being made into a jam; the skins disintegrate upon cooking.  

Barbara from NYC stopped by today to take me out to brunch for my birthday.  She arrived just as I was removing the jars from the hot-pack processing.  She got the first jar of jam to take home with her. 

 Boiling the fruit and sugar. 

 Filling the sterilized jars with the hot jam.  This is where the leather gloves come in handy. 
You can see the wide-bottom canning funnel, designed specifically for this task. 
The bands and discs for the lids are off to the upper right.

The finished jam.  Few things are better.

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