Helpful Tips For Jam and Jellies

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Some fruits contain a natural pectin, some posses a great deal of acid and a few have both. Here is a list of fruit that contain pectin and acid (both of which are necessary to make the product gel):

Cranberries, quinces, green apples, blackberries, concord grapes, plums, gooseberries, orange and lemon rind all contain pectin and acid. Peaches, pear, cherries, strawberries, pineapples, and rhubarb contain practically no pectin when ripe, so pectin or some other gel substance must be added. Pears and sweet apples, although high in pectin, contain practically no acid and so require the addition of bottle lemon juice in place of an acid. Some fruit like pear have more pectin in them when not ripe. So when I make pear jam I always use a few pears that are not yet ripe and one granny smith apple. This ensures I do not need extra pectin.

A jelly bag is a convenient tool to use when straining juice to make jelly. If one is not available, a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth works well. When using a jelly bag or cheesecloth, it is important to dampen the cloth with warm water and wring it out before squeezing fruit through it. This helps to avoid absorption of juice by the cloth. Squeezing the jelly bag or pushing the fruit through will yield more juice but yields a cloudy product. If you choose to squeeze or push, you might try filtering the juice a second time for a more clear product. After each use, scrupulously clean the jelly bag before storing; any remaining juice or pulp will sour and ruin your jelly bag. Remember to wipe the jar rim with a clean, damp cloth to remove any spilled food which could prevent the jar from sealing.

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Pickling

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Making pickles is a lot of fun and quite easy. The hardest part is waiting just the right amount of time for them to pickle before you eat them. When pickling you need about a teaspoon of different spices for each jar. I like to line up little bowls and place the spices for each jar in the bowls. Then I place the produce (whatever I am pickling) in each jar, then the spices before I finally pour the hot brine in the jar. This kind of cooking organization makes things go fast. Choose good quality ingredients that are uniform in size, fresh and free of blemishes.
“Misfits” can be used for relishes. Fruit may be use for pickling too. Using fruit that is not quite ripe is best.

The ordinary cucumbers at stores are called “slicers” and are for table use, not for pickling. At some places you can find pickling cucumbers. The best ones have small black prickles on them. Chicago Pickling or National Pickling cucumbers are some common names for the type of cucumber that is best for pickling.

Remember to wash all ingredients carefully to remove bacteria which might spoil your product. When washing cucumbers, don’t scrub them so hard that you remove the black prickles. A good way to get the dirt and bacteria off is to place the cucumbers in a clean big bowl with tablespoon of pickling salt and one tablespoon of white vinegar for a few minutes. Then, rinse them well under running water as you gently rub them.

Never use brass, copper or aluminum pots, pans or utensils for pickling. Any of these materials will give your pickles a strange taste and an undesirable color because the metals will react with vinegar and salt solutions. Use enameled, glass or stainless steel cookware. Stir with a wooden spoon and use a stainless steel slotted spoon. Do not use table salt when pickling. The iodine in the table salt will darken the brine and soften the pickles. Use a good pickling salt. The vinegar should be no LESS than 5 % acidity; it will say right on the label. Vinegar of unknown strength should not be used.

When making a simple solution of vinegar, salt and water, do not boil for more than 5 to 6 minutes unless otherwise directed in the recipe. A long boil weakens the strength of the vinegar. Always use fresh spices and herbs. Old ones will discolor the product and produce and also give them musty, strange flavors. Have fun pickling!

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New Section In The Website

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We wanted to let you know about a few things that have been added to the website. Under our classes section, you will find four exciting options: Date Night, Private Parties, Use Your Own Fruit and Gift Certificate.
“Date Night” classes are a perfect way to enjoy a double date without the noise and crowds of restaurants or bars. All In A Jar’s kitchen sits high above a canyon with a beautiful view of Mount Diablo. The four of you will jump right in to an exciting class that features delicious, seasonal ingredients. Afterwards, choose indoor or outdoor seating to enjoy elegant, hearty hors d’oeuvres and an exquisite dessert.

All In A Jar is delighted to host a “Private Party” for you and your guests for any occasion. Our classes are perfect for Birthdays, Bridal or Baby Showers, Father’s Day, Office Parties… and any other reason you have to celebrate with loved ones. For Private Parties, guests will enjoy all of the amenities of regular All In A Jar classes, but with the privacy of celebrating with guests of your choice on a day of your choice.

“Use Your Own Fruit” classes are for those of you have a large quantity of your own fruits or vegetables that you would like to use for a class. Please contact All In A Jar to set up a private session! You provide the ingredients and the jars. The class will cost $70.00 per person, and you will leave with all of the jars that you produce and the accompanying recipes. This class requires two or more people. All In A Jar will provide all of the necessary tools and knowledge for the class.

All In A Jar is pleased to offer “Gift Certificates” so that you can spread the love of canning to your friends and family members! Visit this page to fill out the form and have the certificate mailed directly to you or your guest.

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