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November 2016

October 2016

Canned Cranberry Spiced Applesauce - hands down absolutely the best applesauce I have ever eaten

Canned Cranberry Spiced Applesauce - hands down absolutely the best applesauce I have ever eaten
Canned Cranberry Spiced Applesauce - hands down absolutely the best applesauce I have ever eaten

A Best Little Jam House Exclusive

This lovely pink applesauce has subtle complexity and sophistication that will be appreciated by adults, but is still enjoyable to children. I developed the recipe by happenstance. I generally make my applesauce using whatever apples are on sale. Last week the produce market had Honeycrisp, and Gala apples on special, but tart apples were over twice the price. I remembered I had some frozen cranberries in the freezer that might make up for my lack of tart apples. I decided to give it a try, and I am glad I did.  This recipe is a keeper!

 

A bad woman can’t make good applesauce - Ozark proverb.

The fear seemed to be that a bad woman's sauce would not be tart enough.  We need have no apprehension  here. We will achieve that elusive sweet tart balance.

 

For further information about making applesauce, and suggestions about how to customize your batch and avoid pitfalls click http://www.bestlittlejamhouse.com/my-blog/2016/10/home-canned-applesauce-surprising-ingredients-create-your-own-signature-blend.html

 For another spiced applesauce recipe with low sugar and tall taste click here.

If you would like to print the recipe without all the pictures please click Download Cranberry Spiced Applesauce.

 

First, I will be sharing just the recipe for making applesauce.  If you need information about the basic canning process please click here for Virginia Tech's excellent booklet Boiling Water Bath Canning.

 

Cranberry Spiced Applesauce

Golden acorn logo!!! copy

Recipe type: 

Sauce

 

Produces:

 8 pints or 4 quart jars

Prep time: 

2 hours

 

Headspace:

1/2 inch

Cook time: 

1 hours

 

Processing:

20 minutes in pint and half pint jars, 25 for quart jars

Total time: 

3 hours plus 30 minutes

     

Ingredients:

  • 12 pounds apples (half Honeycrisp, and half Gala apples)
     12 pounds apples
    12 pounds apples
  • 3 cups of cranberries (one 12-ounce bag)
  • 3 inch cinnamon sticks (2)
  • 1 cup water or apple juice (to keep apples from scorching while cooking)  
  • Zest of one lemon 
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon 

Instructions:

  1. Core and quarter apples. Dip apples as they are quartered into a lemon/water solution of 1/4 cup lemon juice (2 lemons) in 4 cups water to prevent browning. After dipping transfer apples to cooking pot. One stock pot will easily hold 12 pounds of apples  
    12 pounds apples in stock pot
    12 pounds apples in stock pot
  2. Add cranberries, cinnamon sticks, water or apple juice, and zest of one lemon (chopped finely) to cooking pot.
  3. Let fruit and berries cook for approximately 20-35 minutes, or until the fruit has broken down.
    Cooked fruit and berries
    Cooked fruit and berries
  4. Meanwhile, prepare jars in boiling water bath, and prepare lids per manufacturer's instructions.
  5. Remove cinnamon sticks before puréeing or mashing.
  6. Used food mill, potato masher (will produce chunkier sauce, but you will need to take out skins), or fruit/vegetable strainer to purée the fruit and berries together.
     Fruit/vegetable strainer puréeing the fruit and berries together
    Fruit/vegetable strainer puréeing the fruit and berries together
  7. After puréeing, return pot with sauce to the stove and simmer.
  8. Add lemon juice, salt, almond extract, half the sugar and stir well.
  9. Taste and adjust sweetness to taste. You may want to add more lemon juice at this point to adjust sweet-tart balance (no bad women here).
  10. Ladle hot applesauce into your prepared jars to 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles by sliding a small spatula or plastic knife, between jar and sauce; pressing gently on sauce to release trapped air. Repeat procedure two or three times around jar. Wipe rims, apply lids and screw on rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes for both half pints and pints, 25 minutes for quarts.

I suggest you label your jam jars. One may simply write on the lid, or you may download my labels click here to Download Cranberry Spiced applesauce round label. My labels have a larger round label for the lid and a smaller oval label for the front of jar. One just needs to write in the canning date, cut out, and glue the label on the jar.

 

The Professor's Rating

The Professor gave it 5 stars.  "... Perfect blend of flavors... The best I ever ate... I think the sweetness is just right...Can I have some more?"  

Just FYI - The Professor likes a sweet applesauce (so you may want to adjust). This recipe has a permanent place in the pantry.

 

Cranberry Spiced Applesauce Demystified

Jam scientist's notebook colored

How do I know this recipe is safe? pH and Heat

pH  - To be safe from botulism bacteria growth and its food poisoning toxins, the pH of canned goods must be below 4.6 (one wants to stay below pH 4.4. to be on the safe side). Sweet eating Apples generally have a pH of about 4.0.  Cranberry juice typically has a pH between 2.3 and 2.5. We also added some lemon juice to the recipe, so the sauce should be between pH 3.0 and 3.5 - well within the safety zone.

Heat - Processing the jars in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes is enough heat to kill actively growing bacteria and prevent yeast and mold growth under normal sanitary circumstances in this thick sauce.

Why did you only use the juice of only 1/2 lemon? I thought we were supposed to use two?

It is true that one normally adds a tablespoon of lemon juice for each quart of sauce to preserve to prevent color changes. Cranberries have a high concentration of ascorbic acid like citrus fruits do, so I did not need to add any lemon juice to this recipe. I added some lemon to brighten the flavor a little; but I did not need any lemon.

Why would I want ascorbic acid in my Applesauce?

Ascorbic acid helps control enzymatic changes in the sauce. Enzymatic changes are not dangerous, but can effect color click hear for Secrets for Canning Applesauce.

Why work so hard to remove a few air bubbles?

Air left in the apple purée expands during processing and may cause the applesauce in the jar to overflow into the water bath, called siphoning. Again, this is not dangerous, but this increases the risk of a jar not sealing, so one should be aware of this issue. You can reduce the chance of siphoning by removing air bubbles, leaving ½ inch head space to make room for expansion during processing, and waiting 5 - 10 minutes with the heat off at the end of processing before removing jars from the water bath to allow pressure inside the jars to decrease.

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The Jam Scientist

Home Canned Applesauce - What apples, in what ratios, with what amazing ingredients, in what style, and what pitfalls to avoid

 

Home Canned Applesauce - What apples. in what ratios, with what amazing ingredients, in what style, and what pitfalls to avoid.
Home Canned Applesauce - What apples. in what ratios, with what amazing ingredients, in what style, and what pitfalls to avoid.

Home Canning Applesauce Primer- use surprising ingredients to create your own signature blend

Making your own home canned applesauce is fun and easy.  Creating your own signature blend is simple by using unexpected ingredients and regional apple varieties. I'll help get you started. Do you want to make tart, sweet, sugarless, low sugar, or gourmet applesauce? Customize your batch to make it your own!

 

What Kind of applesauce do you want to make? It all starts with ratios.

Tart - Uses 75-100% tart apples and less than 25% sweet, and it is best to mix tart varies for a more complex flavor and better texture.

Standard -The basic mix for the standard applesauce is half tart and half sweet apples. This will give a nice balance between acid and sweet.

Sweet - Mix 25-50% tart and 50 - 75% sweet apples, or just use more sugar than the basic recipe.

Sugarless or Low Sugar - Use up to 3/4 sweet apples and 1/4 tart apples. Commercially, sugarless applesauce is often sweetened with concentrated apple juice, or concentrated white grape juice.

 

What kind of apples should I look for at the fruit stand?

First you don't need first quality; I basically buy what is on sale as long as they are firm. But some apples are extra special. Pink Lady and Ida Red are famous for making delicious pink apple sauce, but any apple with a red skin can be cooked with the skin on to make a pink apple sauce. I have named a couple of special heritage apples below for California and New England. There may be other little known, but excellent heritage varieties near you or for your garden.

There are hundreds of varieties of apples, but I am recommending a few below to give you a good starting point. For more information you might like to visit The Apple Works "Pick the Perfect Apple" Index.

Tart Apples Varieties:

  • Cortland (tart and tangy, very juicy)
  • Granny Smith is the standard (very tart)
  • Gravenstein (a tart heritage apple, regional to California, and available only in season July-August)
  • Ida Red (tangy and juicy)
  • Jonathan (tart, all purpose apple, crisp and juicy)
  • Pink Lady (zesty tart/sweet)
  • Stayman Winesap (tart, crisp and juicy with wine-like flavor that delivers great complexity)
  • Baldwin (tart heritage apple, regional to New England, and New York)

Stand Alone Varieties (good balanced of sweet-tart flavor):

  • McIntosh (use in both sweet and savory preparations)
  • Pink Lady (zesty tart/sweet)
  • Jonagold (sweet apple with just enough acidity)
  • Gravenstein (a tart heritage apple, regional to California, and available only in season July-August)
  • Baldwin (tart heritage apple, regional to New England, and New York)

Sweet Varieties :

  • Braeburn (Richly sweet/tart, very crisp and juicy)
  • Gala (sweet, yet with a lively kick, crisp firm and juicy)
  • Golden [Yellow] Delicious (sweet and versatile).
  • Honeycrisp (explosively crisp, sweet and juicy)
  • Jonagold (sweet apple with just enough acidity to appeal to a wide audience)

 

Look like a veteran applesauce maker by avoiding these rookie mistakes:

About Spices

I have found that spices in applesauce seem to intensify over time. My suggestion is that "less is more" when it comes to spice. Also consider using whole rather than ground spices, and remove the whole spices after cooking. To ease the removal of whole spices, try using a spice bag (bag made by placing spices into a muslin square and tying with cooking string).

About Sweetness

Applesauce will seem sweeter when tasted warm from the preserving kettle, and taste less sweet after the sugars in the jar equilibrate (in a few weeks).

About Additional Liquid

Different apples at different maturities can vary greatly in juiciness. If you are working with a juicy apple variety, take care not to add too much additional juices or brandy. We do not want the applesauce to become soupy. If your applesauce is too runny, just cook for a few more minutes.

About Peeling

It is best not to peel the apples; cooking the fruit with the skin on boosts flavor and adds color to the sauce. Peels, especially tart apple peels, contain pectin that is released during cooking and produces a thicker, smoother textured applesauce.

One Flavoring to Avoid

One flavoring to avoid in canned applesauce is butter. Butter can go rancid during long storage.

Browning

The top of the applesauce in a jar can gradually turn brown if the sauce was not heated enough to stop all enzymatic reactions and if there was enough oxygen in the head space to react with those enzymes. The same problem can occur if air bubbles were not removed after filling the jar. This is not dangerous, but it is unappealing and something to be aware of. To control browning be sure to heat your purée to a simmer and keep it simmering during filling (this helps remove air). Also, ascorbic acid (in lemon juice) reduces browning, so don't omit it. Our basic recipe includes a tablespoon of lemon juice for each quart of sauce to preserve the apples’ color and to increase acidity.

Siphoning

Air left in the apple purée expands during processing and may cause the applesauce in the jar to overflow into the water bath. Again, this is not dangerous, but this increases the risk of a jar not sealing, so one should also be aware of this issue. You can reduce the chance of siphoning by using a plastic knife, or small spatula, to remove air bubbles from the jar before applying the lid. Take care to leave ½ inch head space to make room for expansion during processing. It is also not unusual for applesauce to siphon as the jars are removed from the water bath. To avoid this, one may turn off the heat and wait 5 - 10 minutes at the end of processing before removing jars from the water bath; this gives time for the temperature and pressure in the jar to equalize.

 

French, Country, or Gourmet Style Applesauce

Dark Sauces

Some might prefer a darker, thicker, somewhat caramelized sauce (half way to apple butter). Cook sauce longer after puréeing, and before adding sugar or spices. Cook on lowest heat, stirring all the way to the bottom of the pan, until you have a thick, spreadable mixture (this can take more than an hour).

Chunkier Sauce

One can use a food mill, potato masher or even just a large wooden spoon to smash apples (will produce chunkier sauce but you will need to take out skins), or mechanical fruit/vegetable strainer to mash or purée the fruit. For a medium chunky applesauce, mash or smash half the apples and purée the rest.

Gourmet Sauce

Gourmet style may use hard to find heritage, or regional specialty verities, or use secret varietal proportions, and/or special ingredients such as French apple brandy.

 

Instructions for water bath canning:

I will be sharing just the recipe suggestions for making the applesauce.  If you need information about the basic canning process please click here for Virginia Tech's excellent booklet Boiling Water Bath Canning.

 

If you would like to print this basic recipe without all the pictures please click here to Download Basic Recipe for homemade canned applesauce

 

Basic Recipe for homemade canned applesauce adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving:

One stock pot will easily hold 12 pounds of apples that will make 8 pint jars of applesauce or 4 quart jars. You can cut that amount in half if you would prefer a smaller batch.

  • 12 pounds apples (basic mix for the standard applesauce is half tart and half sweet apple varieties)
  • Not less than 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons) lemon juice (acid is needed to control enzymatic browning do NOT reduce).
  • 1 cup water or apple juice (to keep apples from scorching while cooking)  
    Apple juice added to keep apples from scorching while cooking
    Apple juice added to keep apples from scorching while cooking
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 3 cups sugar (optional)

 

 

Optional Flavoring Possibilities for 12 lbs apples:

  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract — extract was suggested by Eldress Bertha Lindsay, one of the last surviving residents at Canterbury Shaker Village– stir into finished sauce
  • 3 inch cinnamon sticks (2) — cook with apples and remove prior to puréeing
  • 1-2 teaspoon ground cinnamon – stir into finished sauce
  • 3 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen) – cook and purée with apples
  • 12 whole cloves – cook with apples and remove prior to puréeing
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves —  stir into finished sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg –  stir into finished sauce
  • 3 inch piece fresh ginger, sliced – cook with apples and remove prior to puréeing
  • 3 teaspoons lemon zest – cook and purée with apples
  • 2 cups Red Hot candy – cook and purée with apples
  • 4 pieces star anise (whole) – for licorice flavor, cook with apples and remove prior to puréeing
  • 1 large can concentrated frozen apple juice — to reduce or eliminate refined sugar, stir into finished sauce before adding sugar
  • 1 large can concentrated frozen white grape juice — to reduce or eliminate refined sugar, stir into finished sauce before adding sugar
  • 1 small can frozen orange juice — to increase tang, stir into finished sauce
  • 1 cup cranberry juice— to increase tang and add color, stir into finished sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups Calvados apple brandy - (for adult applesauce) – stir into finished sauce

Many flavorings on this list came from CK Cooks: Homemade Applesauce post of Cook's Illustrated recipe.

Instructions and Method of Processing - easy to do:

  1. Core and quarter apples. Dip apples as they are quartered into a lemon/water solution of 1/4 cup lemon juice (2 lemons) in 4 cups water to prevent browning. After dipping transfer apples to cooking pot (add whole spices now if using).
    Dip apples into a lemon/water solution of 1/4 cup lemon juice (2 lemons) in 4 cups water to prevent browning.
    Dip apples into a lemon/water solution of 1/4 cup lemon juice (2 lemons) in 4 cups water to prevent browning.
  2. Let fruit cook with 1 cup water, or apple juice (to keep apples from scorching), for approximately 20-35 minutes, or until the fruit has broken down.
  3. Used food mill, potato masher (will produce chunkier sauce but you will need to take out skins), or fruit/vegetable strainer to mash or purée the fruit (remove any whole spices now before Puréeing or mashing).
    KitchenAid fruit/vegetable strainer
    KitchenAid™ fruit/vegetable strainer

4.  Bring puréed or mashed sauce to a simmer.

5.  Add lemon juice (to prevent enzymatic browning).

6.  Add salt, ground spices and sugar now if using.

7.  Taste and adjust spices and sweetness. You may want to add more lemon juice at this point to adjust sweet-tart balance.

8 Ladle hot applesauce into your prepared jars to 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles by sliding a small spatula, or plastic knife, between jar and sauce; pressing gently on sauce to release trapped air. Repeat procedure two or three times around jar. Wipe rims, apply lids and screw on rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes for both half pints and pints, 25 minutes for quarts.

9.  Canned applesauce will last at least 1 year with high quality.

 

 For my own custom recipe using these principles click Canned Cranberry Spiced Applesauce - hands down absolutely the best applesauce I have ever eaten.

or

click Home Canned Spiced Applesauce - Low Sugar, Tall Taste

 

Disclosure:

I received no compensation for books or appliances mentioned or shown in this blog.

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The Jam Scientist

Pomegranate Jelly with Blended Habanero Chili - Hot and Sweet (It's Addicting)

Pomegranate Jelly with Blended Habanero Chili
Pomegranate Jelly with Blended Habanero Chili a Perfect Companion with Cheese

A Best Little Jam House Exclusive

If you like your jelly hot and sweet - this one's for you. This jam is quite hot - the perfect heat for firing up a cheese, or ham & cheese, sandwich with only a thin smear added. Use it more like a condiment - but watch out it's addicting!

"Sweet" Pomegranate in Spring
"Sweet" Pomegranate in Spring

It all started with this lovely young pomegranate tree that I have in my backyard. I chose it for its ornamental spring flours and fruit juice that is less pigmented, and therefore less staining on my kitchen counters. It is the "Sweet" variety. Yes, the fruit is sweeter than what you can buy in the supermarket. I have tried making the standard pomegranate jelly with its fruit before, but pomegranates have a subtle flavor (think apple jelly) - a little on the boring side. I decided to try to fire the jelly up - and boy did I!

If you are buying pomegranates at the market you will need 7 or 8 large pomegranates, or you can just buy bottled juice.

For information on how to seed and juice pomegranates see my post dated 10-20-16

First, I will be sharing just the recipe for making the jelly.  If you need information about the basic canning process please click here for Virginia Tech's excellent booklet Boiling Water Bath Canning.

For those new to canning, please note that it is important not to make changes to the recipe.  Proportions are important and must be maintained for success. It is also not advisable to double the recipe because larger volumes would slow evaporation and affect the fresh flavor we want.

If you would like to print this recipe without all the pictures please click here to Download Pomegranate Jelly with Blended Habanero Chili Recipe.

Pomegranate Jelly with Blended Habanero Chili

Author: Adapted from Betty Crocker's Pomegranate-Rosemary Jelly Recipe

Warning: Habanero chilies may look like cute little walnut sized pumpkins, but take care; Habanero chilies are extremely hot. One little chili will fire up a pot of  jelly to medium hot strength, and two will make a truly hot jelly.

http://www.bestlittlejamhouse.com/.a/6a01b8d2238f49970c01b8d229dcf1970c-pi

Recipe type:

Jelly

 

Serves:

8, 8-oz jars, or half-pints

Prep time: 

1  hour

 

Head space:

1/4 inch

Cook time: 

1 hour

 

Processing:

10 minutes

Total time: 

2 hours

     

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1 or 2 habanero chilies
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 to 1 1/3 packages (1 3/4 ounces each pack) fruit pectin
  • 5 cups sugar

Instructions:

1.  Set up your water bath canner, sterilize your jars, and warm your lids in a pan of warm water.

2.  Wearing protective gloves cut the tops off the chili(es) and remove the seeds. Take care NOT to touch your eyes.

3.   In a food processor, blend the chili(es) with the lemon juice until smooth.

4.  Measure sugar and set aside in a bowl (it will be added all at once later in the recipe).

5.  In a large saucepan, preserving kettle, or Dutch oven, cook the pomegranate juice, Habanero chili(es) with lemon juice, and pectin until the pectin has dissolved.  Bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.

6.  Add sugar all at once and bring to a full rolling boil while stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove pot from heat, check the set. You can check set by using the sheet or plate test. If not set, continue cooking for 1 minute more.

7.  Pour jelly into half-pint (8 ounce) jelly jars leaving a 1/4 inch heads space.  This will make 8 jars. Wipe the rims of the jar and seal.  Place into a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

I suggest you label your jelly jars. One may simply write on the lid, or you may download my personal labels  Download Pomegranate Pepper Jelly round label. My labels have a larger round label for the lid and a smaller oval label for the front of jar. One just needs to write in the canning date, cut out, and glue the label on the jar. If the jam will be used as a Christmas gift, The Graphics Fairy has some nice ideas for holiday labels  http://thegraphicsfairy.com/homemade-gifts-jelly-holiday-labels-reader-feature/.

The Professor's Rating

The Professor did not originally like this jelly. The Professor has quite a sweet tooth and he normally uses a heaping helping of preserves in his plane yogurt every evening. Imagine his surprise when he tasted this HOT (I used 2 habaneros) jelly for the first time - He was not amused! So I had to get a little sneaky to get him to try it again. I smeared a modest amount as a base of his personal sized pizza - then topped it with Canadian bacon, basil, thyme, garlic, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, and a little drizzle of olive oil over the top. He loved it  - 4 stars - saying "I really like this"! It has a place in our pantry!

Pomegranate Jelly with Blended Habanero Chili Demystified

Jam scientist's notebook coloredHow do I know this recipe is safe? pH, Water Activity, and Heat

pH  - To be safe from botulism bacteria growth and its food poisoning toxins, the pH of canned goods must be below 4.6 (one wants to stay below pH 4.4. to be on the safe side). Pomegranates are generally between pH 2.9 and 3.2.  Habanero chilies have a pH between 5-6, which is comparatively high. We added some lemon juice (pH 2.0 - 2.6) to help offset the higher pH of the chilies in the recipe, so the jelly should be between pH 3.0 and 3.4 - well within the safety zone. Pomegranates, with their rather low pH, make a good base for blending small amounts of higher pH ingredients or fruits.

Water activity - We also added sugar to this recipe. Salt and sugar "hold onto" water very well and therefor the water is not usable to bacteria for growth. The measurement of how much water is available for microbes' growth is called water activity or aw. A water activity of 0.85 or less is considered the safe cutoff level for deterring pathogen growth (however, yeasts and molds can still grow at at this level). Traditionally made jams (like the one we just made) have a water activity of between 0.75 - 0.80 - so we have additional protection from bacteria growth because of the sugar. Traditional jams will last almost twice as long as low sugar jams because of their lower water activity, and they are safe for longer times out of the refrigerator.

Heat - Processing the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes is enough heat to kill actively growing bacteria, plus kill yeast, and molds under normal sanitary circumstances. This is how we control the yeasts and molds that were not affected by the low pH or moderately low water activity.

Why in the world would I want to use such a hot chili?

There are two reasons I chose Habaneros. First, all chilies have a relatively high pH - if I added several larger, but milder chilies, I might need to add a cup or more of vinegar to try to get the pH into a safe range, and that would adversely affect the taste. Second, pomegranate jelly has a very mild flavor I wanted to liven up the jelly, but not overpower the pomegranate flavor. Habanero chilies have heat, but almost no identifiable flavor. 

Why did I give a range for how much pectin to use?

Pomegranates are a very low pectin fruit and have a reputation of being hard to jell. I would use additional pectin (1 1/3 box) if I were using traditional types of pectin. However, I would only use one box if I was using a low sugar pectin. Low sugar pectin tends to get somewhat granular if the amount used is too high.

 

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The Jam Scientist

How do I seed and juice pomegranates?

Okay, I have a bag full of pomegranates, how do I seed them?

Two methods

Traditional Method:

1.  Cut both the crown and base ends off the pomegranate, taking some of the white pith with each end.

2.  Lightly score the skin in quarters or fifths, from the stem end to the crown end. Firmly yet gently break the sections apart, following your score lines.

3.  Roll out the arils (juice sacks) with your fingers and discard everything else. Some people do this under water, but I just work on a cutting board.

pomegranate's arils
Roll out the pomegranate arils (juice sacks) with your fingers

I saw the Pioneer Woman demonstrating this method on her blog. I have not tried this yet, but you might have luck with it.

Fanning Method:

1.  Cut the pomegranate in half vertically.

2.  With the cut side up, make 4 equally spaced cuts 1 inch long and 1 inch deep.

3.  Hold the pomegranate half, cut side down, over a deep bowl and pull the fruit open but not apart, using equal pressure from both hands.

4.  Holding the pomegranate half, cut side down, in the palm of one hand, whack the top of the fruit with the back of a large spoon. The seeds should fall out.      

Now how do I juice the arils?

 arils (juice sacks) in preserving pan
Arils (juice sacks) in preserving pan.

This is my personal method for making wonderfully clear juice.  I do own a jelly bag, but when I double stack my colanders, or sieves, I get faster results. Taking time to filter the juice makes a huge difference in how clear the end product will be, but it is time-consuming. If you decide not to invest this much time filtering, you could stop at step #5.

Making the juice:

1.  Place all the arils (juice sacks) in a large cooking pot.

2  Add enough water to cover the bottom of pot with water and heat to boiling.

Use an immersion blunder to juice fruit
Use an immersion blender to juice fruit.

3.  Use an immersion blender to juice fruit.

4. Just strain- Strain juice through colander, or sieve, two times. I double stack my sieves to speed things up. Discard remaining seeds and pulp.

5.  Filter with one layer of paper towels -Line the sieve with a wet paper towel(s) and filter two times using fresh wet towels at each filtration. Again, I stack my sieves to speed things up.

6.  Filter with two layers of paper towels -Line the sieve with two layers of wet paper towels and filter two times using fresh wet towels for each filtration. Again, I stack my sieves to speed things up.

6. Filter with coffee filters-Line one sieve with wet coffee filters and filter 1 time.

7.  Put juice in a pitcher and leave juice in refrigerator overnight - when you pour out your juice the next day, take care to leave any sediment behind in the pitcher.

Check out my recipe for Pomegranate Jelly with Blended Habanero Chili dated 10-21-16. If you like your jelly hot and sweet - this jelly is for you!

Many seeds and much pulp to discard
Many seeds and much pulp to discard.
Straining juice through two sieve stacked together
Straining juice through two sieves stacked together.

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The Jam Scientist

Strawberry Jam with Fresh Mint and Black Pepper - Adapted from Christine Ferber's Strawberry Jam Recipe

I am fortunate to have found some Albion variety strawberries at the fruit stand this fall. I have wanted to try one of Christine Ferber's French jam recipes, and these fine berries will be the test subjects.  Albion strawberries are superb and worth the extra time and attention- perfect for French jam making and Christmas gifts! Strawberries have little natural pectin and this French style uses no added pectin, so you enjoy a more syrupy consistency.

French strawberry Jam (1 of 1)
French Style Strawberry Jam

First, I will be sharing just the recipe for making jam.  If you need information about the basic canning process please click here for Canning Instructions from Virginia Tech.

For those new to canning, please note that it is important not to make changes to the recipe.  Proportions are important and must be maintained for success. It is also not advisable to double the recipe because larger volumes would slow evaporation and affect the fresh flavor we want.

 If you would like to print this recipe without all the pictures please click here to Download Strawberry Jam with Fresh Mint and Black Pepper.

http://www.bestlittlejamhouse.com/.a/6a01b8d2238f49970c01b8d229dcf1970c-pi

Strawberry Jam with Fresh Mint and Black Pepper

Author: Adapted from Christine Ferber's Strawberry Jam Recipe

Recipe type: 

Jam

 

Serves:

 4 or 5 half pints

Prep time: 

24-48 hours

 

Head space:

1/4 inch

Cook time: 

30 minutes

 

Processing:

10 minutes in half-pint jars

Total time: 

24-48 hours plus 30 minutes

     

Ingredients:

  • 2½+ pounds fresh strawberries (2 1/3 lb after hulling and slicing)
  • 4 cups granulated cane sugar (825 g or 1 lb 13 oz)
  • 5 peppercorns - ground
  • 5 bruised mint leaves 
  • Zest and juice of one large lemon 

Instructions:

  1. Wash, dry, hull and slice your strawberries. Place the strawberries into a large non-reactive bowl (glass or stainless). Stir in the sugar and the lemon juice.  
  2. Let sit (macerate) 2 hours.
macerate
Start of Macerate

I know this looks like a lot of sugar, but it is a comparatively moderate amount as far as jam goes.The sugar added to the berries will pull  the natural juices from the berries and create wonderful flavorful syrup. The amount of sugar you add helps determine the amount of liquid in the final jam.

3.   Simmer strawberries in a wide-bottomed pan ,or a preserving pan, just until sugar melts- we don't want to cook them yet!

Simmer strawberries
Simmering Strawberries in Preserving Pan

4.  Pour strawberries into a nonreactive bowl . Cover with parchment paper and store in the refrigerator (macerate) overnight.

5.  Next day, or if you have time to wait, the second day (48 hours), pour the contents through a sieve to collect juice and separate berries. Bring just the collected syrup to a boil, skim, and continue cooking on high heat until a candy thermometer, or digital meat thermometer, reaches 221 degrees (The syrup will be sufficiently concentrated at 221 degrees [105 degrees C] on a candy thermometer).  

6.Meanwhile while the syrup comes to a boil set up your water bath canner, sterilize your jars and warm your lids in a pan of hot water.

7.   Meanwhile stir in ground pepper to the separated strawberries. I found it easier to just eye-ball a moderate amount of black pepper rather than separating out 5 peppercorns to be ground. Also, mash about 1/4 of the total berries - I used a potato masher for the job.

Ground pepper in strawberries
Ground pepper in strawberries

8.   Meanwhile while the syrup comes to a boil, bruise washed mint leafs by tapping the leaves quickly and firmly with wooden spoon until they become darker and floppier. Wrap mint in spice bag (I used a Tea Infuser ).

bruising washed mint leafs
Bruising mint leafs

9.   When the syrup reaches 221 degrees, add strawberries mixture with pepper and mint to the hot syrup to cook. Return mixture to a  boil on high heat. Boil the mixture for five minutes, stirring gently. Remove pot from heat. Check the set (it will be somewhat loose). You can check set by using the sheet or plate test. If too loose cook again and check every 1 minute and test it again. Take care NOT to over cook, or you will lose its fresh flavor.

(Below) The looser jam on left was cooked for 5 minutes, has a bright color, and tastes fresh with  fruit that still has texture.  The jam on the left was cooked for close to 10 minutes. It has a nice firm set, but is much darker and tastes somewhat caramelized. 

strawberry Jam group
Loose set vs. Caramelized

 9.   When set, let the jam cool for 5-10 minutes before ladling into 1/2 pt jars to prevent separating. Don't skip this step - or  strawberries will float to top of jar.

Note: Processing time given is for 1000 foot elevation and below. If you are working at a higher elevation click here for information about needed time adjustments.

10.   Pour the jam into sterilized jars with 1/4 inch head space. Transfer to boiling water bath for and process for 10 minutes if using half-pint jars or 15 minutes if using pint jars.

 

Ready to Jar
Strawberry Jam Skimmed and Ready to Jar

 Jam will last at least one year at peak quality.

I suggest you label your jam jars. One may simply write on the lid, or you may download my personal labels Download Strawberry Jam with Fresh Mint and Black Pepper round label My labels have a larger round label for the lid and a smaller oval label for the front of jar. One just needs to write in the canning date, cut out, and glue the label on the jar. If the jam will be used as Christmas gifts, The Graphics Fairy has some nice ideas for holiday labels  http://thegraphicsfairy.com/homemade-gifts-jelly-holiday-labels-reader-feature/.

The Professor's Rating

The Professor gave it 3 stars (he said maybe 3 3/2). He very much enjoyed the taste, but did not like the jam dripping off his toast. He preferred the American style jam I shared October 10, 2016. (Personally, I like a looser set and did not find the dripping bothersome - I liked the way it soaked into the bread). However, it tastes marvelous and earns a place in our pantry as a strawberry sauce. The mint and pepper is quite subtle, as I prefer when working with exceptionally tasty berries.  Some mint lovers might like to increase the mint.

  French Style Strawberry Jam Demystified

Jam scientist's notebook coloredHow do I know this recipe is safe? pH, aw, and Heat

pH  - To be safe from botulism bacteria growth and its food poisoning toxins, the pH of canned goods must be below 4.6 (one wants to stay below pH 4.4. to be on the safe side). Strawberries are generally between pH 3.0 and 3.9. We added some lemon juice to the recipe so the jam should be between pH 3.0 and 3.4 - well within the safety zone.

Water activity - We also added sugar in this recipe. Salt and sugar "hold onto" water very well and therefor the water is not usable to bacteria for growth. The measurement of how much water is available for microbes' growth is called water activity or aw. A water activity of 0.85 or less is considered the safe cutoff level for deterring pathogen growth (however, yeasts and molds can still grow at at this level). Traditionally made jams (like the one we just made) have a water activity of between 0.75 - 0.80 - so we have additional protection from bacteria growth because of the sugar. Traditional jams will last almost twice as long as low sugar jams because of their lower water activity, and they are safe for longer times out of the refrigerator.

Heat - Processing the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes is enough heat to kill actively growing bacteria and prevent yeast and mold growth under normal sanitary circumstances. This is how we control the yeasts and molds that were not affected by the low pH or moderately low water activity.

What is maceration?

The sugar added to the berries will pull  the natural juices from the berries and create flavorful syrup. This way you will not need to add water to the recipe, and will not dilute the taste. It is interesting to note that in this context the amount of sugar you add helps determine the amount of liquid in the final product and how concentrated the flavor will be. Also, macerating for longer periods of time helps the sugar inside the berries and sugar in the syrup equilibrate. This causes the berries to be less likely to float in the jar.

Why cook the juice first?

Heat is the enemy of flavor. By heating the juice first you quicken the cooking process for the berries and end up with a fresher tasting jam. By concentrating the juice (and concentrating the sugar in the juice) by evaporation we can get away with using less sugar in the recipe.

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The Jam Scientist

Family Album

The ProfesserThe Professor - I met and fell in love with this brainy yet fun loving physics professor at a bible study. He is one of the kindest men I have ever met, and a true southern gentleman! Our grandchildren adore him. I love his southern accent, his mind, humor, and all the rest of him!

 

Fair jam 2015 croped

Fair Winner - A couple of years ago I entered our local fair for the first time. I won several first place ribbons. Not bad for a beginner.

 

 

  Dad

This is my dad - we call him grandpa now. He could build anything, and fix anything . He was the one who always understood me. When I was a child, he even understood my need to have a pet duck. Now it is my turn to help him.

 

 

 

Spot

My dad's dog Spot. She is part of our family now. This has been a big adjustment for her. She once lived on ten acres without a fence.  Now she is learning to be a house dog, ride in a car, and walk in a busy neighborhood. She is adjusting very well.

 

Lee grandchildrenMy Grandmother Lee pictured with my brother and me. She was an interior designer with great creativity and flair that she marketed in her own shop. She was also a sophisticated cook that appreciated gourmet touches.

 

 

This is my Grandmother Low (below). She canned quart jars by the hundred. There was little she did not know how to grow, prepare, and preserve. She was also a wonderful sausage maker with a down-home southern style that once eaten was not to be forgotten Grandma Low

To read the story of how The Jam Scientist and The Professor met and fell in love click here.

 

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About The Jam Scientist and The Professor

Golden acorn logo!!! copy

Why start Best Little Jam House?
When Life Gives You Lemons - Make Marmalade

This little business was conceived during a drastic life change. My father became seriously ill and came to live with us. Of course he needed physical care, but with him also came boxes of family history that need cataloging, and vintage furniture that needs refinishing. I never dreamed how stressful relocating an elder would be. Mountains of paper and photos to go through, doctor's appointment by the score, trying to find one's way through a lifetime of business records. The stress of cleaning out, renovating, and selling dad's house remotely from 500 miles away is an experience I hope I never repeat.

I am now slowly gaining sanity and some semblance of routine. I continue to be busy care-giving, but I also realize that I have missed my hobby of making preserves. I found my instincts as a hunter-gatherer starting to awaken in this stressful time. There is something calming about stirring a bubbling pot of jam, something reassuring about stacking the jars in the pantry and knowing we have plenty, and something prudent about stretching the family budget in a one paycheck family. This blog is a way to channel these instincts and desires into a business. It is a way to continue my profession as a food scientist while being present for my dad in his time of need, and a way to express some pleasure and creativity during a difficult time. Wish me luck!

About The Jam Scientist
Okay - you have professional credentials, but who are you really?

Hi! I’m Beth, aka The Jam Scientist. I have a degree in food science from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. I have professional training in canned food safety through the University of California at Davis earning a Better Process Control School certificate. I have many years of industry experience working in canneries and the food/beverage industry.

I am one of the lucky ones. I met and fell in love with a brainy physics professor at a bible study. Our love has never faltered - he still sends shivers up my spine. I am also a mother of twins plus a singleton - now all grown. Our immediate family has recently expanded to include my dad and his large dog Spot. We live in a small town in Southern California. We bought a small fixer-upper home a couple of years ago that we are slowly transforming as we are able, and it still needs work.
I was greatly influenced by my mother and both my grandmothers, and blessed from their talents. The women in my family can cook - homemade pies, cakes, bread, biscuits, cornbread, preserves, jams, pickles, sauerkraut, and homemade sausage. Nobody ever left the table empty. One grandmother lived on a remote homestead in Oklahoma for a time. In the summer she canned quart jars by the hundred. There was little she did not know how to grow, prepare, and preserve. She was a wonderful preserver and sausage maker with a down-home southern style that I will never forget. My second grandmother was an exceptional interior designer with great creativity and flair in all that she did. She was also a sophisticated cook that appreciated and used gourmet touches. Both were strong, talented, and hard working women that influenced my desire to study food science as a profession. From these women I learned to appreciate thrift, style, self-sufficiency, and the enjoyment of all things home.

Feel free to peek into our Family Photo Album .

Best Little Jam House Layout

In addition to blog recipes you will see:

  • The Professor's Rating - where my husband's reaction can be found. 
  • Will the product have a place into our pantry?  Not every product will be good enough to earn a spot in our pantry. 
  • The Jam Scientist's Notebook - where technical issues about the product will be discussed.

 

 

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Strawberry Jam: It Isn't Just for June Anymore - Inaugural Issue of Best Little Jam House


 
Albion Strawberry Jam
Albion Strawberry Jam is the stuff that dreams are made of.

I have been waiting all year to make some fall strawberry jam. Strawberry jam is not just for June anymore. My preferred strawberry, 'Albion,' is a long and thin, day neutral strawberry  that begins showing up in the fruit stands toward the end of summer and availability should continue at least until end of October! You can smell  Albion's berry fragrance from ten feet away from the fruit stand, and when you taste them you won't forget the sweet surprise. Other day neutral strawberries may taste good, but Albion has spectacular flavor! 

Albion Strawberry Jam is the stuff that dreams are made of - perfect for jam making and Christmas gifts! I have adapted one of Christine Ferber's French strawberry jam recipes to produce a thicker, more American style jam by using commercial pectin. Strawberries have little natural pectin so one must either add pectin, learn to enjoy a more syrupy consistency, or cook them until they are somewhat caramelized. Don't worry; we will also make some French style jam in our next issue. If you don't have day neutral berries for sale in your area you can use frozen berries.

First, I will be sharing just the recipe for making jam.  If you need information about the basic canning process please click here.

For those new to canning, please note that it is important not to make changes to the recipe.  Proportions are important and must be maintained for success. It is also not advisable to double the recipe because larger volumes would slow evaporation and affect the fresh flavor we want.

 If you would like to print the recipe without all the pictures please click here Download American Style Strawberry Jam Recipe

Golden acorn logo!!! copy

                   Strawberry Jam Recipe

Prep time: 

24 hours

 

Processing time: 

10 minutes for half pints

   

Cook time: 

30 minutes

 

Yield:

4 or 5 half pints (half pints = 1 cup)

 

Total time:

24 hours, 30 minutes

   Head Space:  1/4 inch    

Ingredients:

  • 2½+ pounds fresh strawberries (2 1/3 lb after hulling and slicing)
  • 4 cups granulated cane sugar (825 grams, or 1 lb, 13 oz)
  • Zest and juice of one large lemon 
  • One pouch liquid pectin
   
Instructions:
  1. Wash, dry, hull, and slice your strawberries. Place the strawberries into a large nonreactive (glass or stainless) bowl. Stir in the sugar and the lemon juice.

 

Start of maceration
Let strawberries sit to extract juice

2.   Let strawberries sit (macerate) to extract juices - 2 hours, covered, at room temperature. Simmer strawberries in a wide-bottomed pan, or a preserving pan, just until sugar melts.

Strawberries in preserving pan.
Simmer strawberries just until sugar melts

3.   Pour mixture into a nonreactive bowl. Cover with parchment paper and store in the refrigerator to extract juices (macerate) overnight.

4.   Next day, pour the contents through a sieve or strainer to collect juice and separate berries.

5.    Bring just the collected syrup to a full rolling boil,and continue cooking on high heat until a candy thermometer reaches 221 degrees (The syrup will be sufficiently concentrated at 221 degrees [105 degrees C] on a candy thermometer).

Strawberry syrup boiling
Strawberry syrup boiling on high heat

6.   Meanwhile, set up your water bath canner, sterilize your jars, and warm your lids in a pan of warm water.

 7.    Stir one packet liquid pectin into the strawberries and quickly blend. Add strawberry mixture to the hot syrup. Mash about 1/4 of the berries. Return mixture to a boil on high heat.

strawberries and hot syrup
Blend strawberries and hot syrup.

8.   Return syrup and berries to a full rolling boil. Boil for just one minute, stirring gently. Check the set at one minute. You can do this by using the sheet or plate test. If the jam is still runny, cook another minute and test it again.

9.   Let the jam cool for 5 minutes before skimming off foam and ladling jam into hot jars. This cooling time prevents the berries from separating in the jar (this is important - otherwise berries will float to top of jar).

 

intensely flavorful Strawberry Jam
You won't forget the intensely flavored sweet surprise.

10.    Pour the jam into sterilized hot jars leaving 1/4 inch head space. Transfer to boiling water bath and process for 10 minutes if using half-pint jars, or 15 minutes if using pint jars.

Note: Processing time given is for 1000 foot elevation and below. If you are working at a higher elevation click here for information about needed time adjustments.

Jam will last at least one year at peak quality.

I suggest you label your jam jars. One may simply write on the lid, or you may download my labels here Download Strawberry Jam round label. My labels have a larger round label for the lid and a smaller oval label for the front of jar. One just needs to write in the canning date, cut out, and glue the label on the jar.

The Professor's Rating

The professor gave it 4 stars.  He ate a jar up in two days saying "that's good jam"... It earns a place in our pantry.

 

Albion Strawberry Jam Demystified

Jam scientist's notebook coloredHow do I know this recipe is safe? pH, Water Activity, and Heat

pH  - To be safe from botulism bacteria growth and its food poisoning toxins, the pH of canned goods must be below 4.6 (one wants to stay below pH 4.4. to be on the safe side). Strawberries are generally between pH 3.0 and 3.9. We added some lemon juice to the recipe so the jam should be between pH 3.0 and 3.4 - well within the safety zone.

Water activity - We also added sugar in this recipe. Salt and sugar "hold onto" water very well and therefor the water is not usable to bacteria for growth. The measurement of how much water is available for microbes' growth is called water activity or aw. A water activity of 0.85 or less is considered the safe cutoff level for deterring pathogen growth (however, yeasts and molds can still grow at at this level). Traditionally made jams (like the one we just made) have a water activity of between 0.75 - 0.80 - so we have additional protection from bacteria growth because of the sugar. Traditional jams will last almost twice as long as low sugar jams because of their lower water activity, and they are safe for longer times out of the refrigerator.

Heat - Processing the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes is enough heat to kill actively growing bacteria and prevent yeast and mold growth under normal sanitary circumstances. This is how we control the yeasts and molds that were not affected by the low pH or moderately low water activity.

What is maceration?

The sugar added to the berries will pull  the natural juices from the berries and create flavorful syrup. This way you will not need to add water to the recipe, and will not dilute the taste. It is interesting to note that in this context the amount of sugar you add helps determine the amount of liquid in the final product and how concentrated the flavor will be.

Why cook the juice first?

Heat is the enemy of flavor. By heating the juice first you quicken the cooking process for the berries and end up with a fresher tasting jam. Also, usually recipes using liquid pectin would call for 7 cups of sugar per batch. That much sugar would reduce the flavor of the jam because the berries would be more diluted. By concentrating the juice (and concentrating the sugar in the juice) by evaporation we can get away with using less sugar when using liquid pectin.

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The Jam Scientist