Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Oops" Jam with Pomona's Pectin

Okay, I know I can't be the only person who has taken something out of the freezer and then gotten distracted and ended up with a bag of oops the next day.  It's happened more than once to me.  This last time it was not one, but two Costco sized bags of frozen berries and fruit.  Fortunately they were not brand new and so not full.  I had a bag of berries and a bag of mixed fruit for smoothies for the girls.  They were out because I had intended on taking out enough berries and peaches for a very small batch of jam to tide me over until I could pick up some from Nana.  As it happened however, the next morning I found the completely thawed out bags of mushy fruit on top of the freezer.  *Sigh*  I hadn't intended on doing a major batch of jam; the kitchen is currently P.H.D.  But I hate waste.  So jam it was, or throw it all out. 

I had two different kinds of pectin in the pantry.  Ball Original Fruit Pectin, which I have used before to great success, and Pomona's Universal Pectin.  I will be donating the Ball pectin to the food bank because I found out that it is made with dextrose as the first ingredient.  Stupid corn derivatives.  Always, always, always read labels.  Even on different sized packages, the ingredients can differ.  So anyway, this was my first time using the Pomona's pectin and I am very happy with it.  It is pure pectin derived from citrus peel and no other additives.  And it is activated by calcium, not sugar.  That means you don't need the cloying amounts of sugar sometimes called for in regular jam recipes.  Some of those recipes call for equal amounts or even more sugar than fruit.  I don't know about you, but I would prefer more fruit as opposed to the standard fruit flavored sugary stuff you find on grocery store shelves.  With this pectin I was able to use half the sugar amount and could have used even less.  This being the first time, I decided to use the higher amount.  If you have never used Pomona's Pectin, go check out the website and FAQs at

So I dumped the bag of berries into my food mill, and milled those into purée, then went fishing in the melted smoothie fruit for all the good peaches and strawberries I could find.  I have a recipe I love for strawberry peach jam with maybe ¾ strawberries and ¼ peaches, give or take.  This jam would be a mixed berry peach.  I ended up with 6 cups of fruit and berry purée when all was said and done.  That's a batch and a half.  I only did one batch so far as I am out of extra jars.  Now the Pomona's gels when completely cool, so I used the freezer plate test to check the gel before jarring the jam.  Worked great.  It will still take some getting used to, but I am very happy with the result.  The flavor is intensely fruity and nicely sweet without being cloying.  And the consistency is a nice soft spreadable jam.  Not too firm, and not runny.  I also like that you get multiple batches out of one package of pectin.  I may even try some of the other recipes on the Pomona's website that use the pectin like you would use gelatin for some dessert applications.  Meanwhile, I'll grab some more jars and finish up that last half batch later today or tomorrow.

Berry Peach Jam

4 cups fruit purée (about 2/3- 3/4 berries and 1/3 - 1/4 peaches)
¼ cup lemon juice
½ tsp butter
2 cups evaporated cane sugar (the box says you can use as little as ¾ cup!)
2 tsp Pomona's pectin powder (Pomona's pectin is dextrose/corn free)
2 tsp calcium water (from the Pomona box)

Wash and rinse your jars and let stand in hot water.  I like to put the jars, lids and rings right into the water bath canner until I am ready.  One less pot with which to deal.  ☺  Put the fruit, lemon juice, butter and calcium water into a large saucepan.  (The butter helps prevent foaming but I think it rounds out the flavor in a very subtle way and would never leave it out even if I didn't need it.)  Measure out the sugar into a separate bowl and thoroughly mix in the pectin.  This pectin will lump if not thoroughly mixed.  Bring the fruit mixture to a boil, add sugar pectin mixture and stir vigorously for a minute or so to dissolve the pectin.  The directions say to bring back to a boil and then remove from heat.  I boiled it a few minutes and did a gel test on a frozen plate.  Remove your jars from the hot water and fill to within ¼" of the top.  Screw on the two piece lids.  (Bring the water back to a boil while you are filling.)  Put the filled jars in the water to cover and boil for 10 minutes for half pints, 15 minutes for pints.  Remove jars from water and let cool.  Check seals - the lids should be sucked down.  (I've never had a jar not seal after water bath canning.)  The jam will gel when completely cool.  I got exactly 2½ pints out of this batch.

I think I'll try a marionberry syrup for the next round.  You just use half the amount of pectin.  I LOVE fruit syrups.  In the meantime, PBJs for the kids and toast for me!


Anonymous said...

I've seen that pectin in the stores, but never tried it. Cool about the less sugar needed.

Faith said...

I've never tried berry peach jam. I should give this a try very soon! your jam looks wonderful

hobby baker said...

@ anon - yes, very cool, and great flavor too, not just sweet.

@ Faith - Thanks, I hope you do try it. The strawberry and peach combo is especially nice when you have perfectly ripe fruit. This one has great berry flavor, like berry pie filling but I didn't taste the peach as much. (Those smoothie fruit mixes probably don't use the most perfectly ripe fruit.)

The American Homemaker said...

I make all my own jams :)

in fact I can hear the pop pop pop of the lids of tomato-pineapple jam right now!

hobby baker said...

@ American - It's just so much better than storebought isn't it? ☺

Hanaâ said...

I just made homemade preserves too. No pectin! How you ask? Apples!! I have the post on my blog. Let me know if you try it and how you like it.

Amy said...

How long does it take to cool and completely gel? I'm very new to jam making so I'm suspecting that I used too much water.

hobby baker said...

@ Amy - Well, I'm not sure what jam you are making but the only water I usually add is the couple teaspoons of calcium water used specifically with Pomona brand pectin. It is supposed to gel when thoroughly cool (a few hours at least) and I understand it can take overnight. I've had some batches gel very obviously on a plate test even before jarring, and some that did take overnight for perfect gel. I would say if it has not gelled in 12-18 hours, you may have wonderful fruit syrup, or you can rebatch and try again. ☺ It hasn't failed on me yet though. Good luck with your jam making endeavors!

Ron Morris said...

I love Pomona's pectin and have used it for many years. The only failure was when I used WAY too much and ended up with plum jam the consistency of hardened silicone caulk. This I repaired by reheating it and adding grape juice, since it was too sour as well. It jelled again with good results.

What I really like about Pomona’s is that you can make huge batches. When I have a bumper crop of Nanking Cherries, regular pie cherries, and assorted plums, like this year, this saves me a lot of time. Today I made 27 pints of Nanking Cherry Jam. Whew! Three batches were much less work than eight or nine with regular pectin. And yes, if you try to double a batch with that stuff, it WILL fail. With Pomona’s, you can make jam by the vat if necessary!

I use 16 cups of prepared fruit, two cups of sugar for my sour cherries and plums (the directions call for twice as much, but why, just why?), and a box of Pomona’s. Then I pressure can the finished product for 10 minutes at 10 pounds. (Low altitude people could use 8 minutes and 8 pounds). The pressure canning makes the jam last a LOT longer.

Pomona’s seems expensive, but when you figure the cost per pint jar (about $0.45) it really isn’t. I figure that with free fruit, a pint of jam costs me about sixty-five cents, including the sugar, pectin, and the canning lid.

I use a cheap brand of Spaghetti sauce that comes in pint-and-a-half Mason jars, which I save. I fill a few of these with jam to give away so I don’t lose my precious wide mouth jam jars. As long as the jar is labeled “Mason” it works with regular lids, and does not explode in the canner.

I hope this helps someone!

hobby baker said...

Thanks Ron for sharing your experience! And especially for pointing out that yes, while the Pomona's may look expensive, it is a multi batch box so it actually runs much cheaper than it first appears. I totally agree about the unnecessary sugar - LOVE being able to use less and have wonderfully FRUIT flavored jam, not jam flavored sugar.

jan2ski said...

Thanks everyone for your comments! How I wish I had had Pomona's Pectin yesterday when making strawberry freezer jam! All my jars failed to set. Going to see if I can rectify the situation today using Pomona's pectin, and following the information at:

hobby baker said...

I'm glad you found something helpful here! I hope you can get your jars to set this time. Thanks for stopping by! ♥