WHAT JAM & MARMALADE ARE
Jam and marmalade are often used indistinctly in everyday language. We use both to indicate a preparation based on fruit and sugar with a spreadable consistency: All true so far!
Then we have Fruit Jellies, which are different from the first ones because they are firm, coated with sugar, and delicious!
In this chapter, we’ll look at:
- The Ingredients
- Jam & marmalade
- Preparation Techniques
- Recipe Balancing
- Fruit Jellies
- Preparation Method
- Balancing the Recipe
If we wanted to make things more precise, we should distinguish:
Jam: it is a preparation with a minimum content of 35% fruit and added sugar. Suppose the percentage of fruit is higher than 45%. In that case, we can use the term Extra Jam, also characterized by a lower percentage of added sugar (because it is more sugar contained in fruit). Generally speaking, a jam’s final sugar content is about 55-60%, which varies according to the recipe’s sweetness.
Marmalade: Like Jam, but it indicates a preparation made with Citrus fruits. Therefore, it is correct to say “Lemon Marmalade,” but not “Peach Marmalade.”
Compote: These preparations are similar to Jam but differ for sugar content, which usually varies between 100-200 grams per kilo of fruit, obtaining a sugar concentration in the recipe of about 13-15%. The shelf life of Compotes is therefore much shorter than that of Jam or Marmalade.
Fruit Jellies: Like Jams, they have a higher quantity of sugar and a gelling process that makes them suitable to be cut.
Since we do not have to put a label on the preparation at home, we can continue to use the term Jam or Marmelade as we are used to doing, and no one will be upset. 🙂
They represent the heart of the recipe, and ideally, we could prepare a jam or marmalade with different types of fruits. The recipe needs to choose fruit well ripped to obtain a fair amount of sugar and a persistent aroma. Before preparing the recipe, the fruits must be well washed in cold water. Only in case of foul fruit, I suggest using a food disinfectant, taking care of rinsing it properly.
For the preparation of jams and marmalades, fruits can be used with their peel or peeled according to personal taste. In case you decide to use the fruit without the peel, I suggest you blanch the fruits for 1-2 minutes in boiling water and then put them in icy water. This thermal shock will help you to peel the fruit much more quickly.
Every fruit is characterized by a specific sugar content (measured with a Refractometer, a straightforward tool to use and to find online) and varies with the level of ripeness. Knowing the fruit’s real sugar content is fundamental to calculate the right quantity of granulated sugar to add to the recipe. I will explain this step better in the chapter about balancing the recipe.
Sugar is the second most important ingredient because it determines the Jam’s sweetness, but above all, its preservation. The higher the quantity of sugar, the longer the conservation time will be. Jam and marmalade, if well balanced and pasteurized, can last about 24 months. In compotes, where the sugar content is lower, the shelf life goes down to few days in the refrigerator at +4°C (39°F) and up to 6 months if blast chilled and stored at -20°C (-4°F).
The primary sugar used is granulated sugar. However, other types of sugar as raw sugar, can be used in the recipe to exalt the taste of some fruits. Sometimes you can replace part of the sugar with honey; however, you should pay attention not to obtain an excessively sweet product. Moreover, honey tends to darken during cooking.
For Fruit Jellies, instead, you can also use a percentage of Glucose syrup, which prevents the recipe’s sugar from re-crystallize and gives the jelly a “rounder” consistency in the mouth.
they are ingredients used to accelerate the gelling process of our Jam. In particular, pectin is the most used thickener for these preparations. Pectin is a substance already present in variable quantities in fresh fruit, with a particular concentration in Apples (Green and Quince) and Citrus fruits. However, very often, we use powdered pectin to accelerate the process and have a firmer jam.
People approaching pectin may be intimidated for the first time because there are so many types, often called with technical terms difficult to understand. In general, it is enough to know that the choice of the right pectin to use depends first of all on:
- The recipe you are making (jam and marmalade, fruit pastes)
- PH and therefore acidity of the preparation
- The temperature at which it must gel
In particular, here are my advice:
For Jams and marmalades: Use a “Rapid Set” Pectin (sometimes you can also find the wording HM – Rapid Set).
For Low Sugar Jams: Use an “LM” Pectin (LM stands for Low Methoxy)
For Fruit Jellies (the classic sugar-coated jellies): Use “Yellow” Pectin or Slow Set.
You should always mix pectin in 3 times its weight of granulated sugar before being used. This trick avoids creating lumps in the preparation.
It is good practice to extract pectin naturally from fruit for replacing powdered pectin, thus obtaining a 100% natural preparation. You can generally extract the pectin from green apples with an easy process, which I will show you in this recipe. The juice is used as a thickener, in the proportion of 20% on the fruits’ weight.
METHODS OF PREPARATION OF JAM
There are two methods of preparing Jam, depending on the type of fruit used.
DIRECT METHOD WITH 1 COOKING
it is indicated for fruits with lots of juice, such as Plums, Cherries, Raspberries, or blended fruit.
Mix the fruit with the sugar and let it macerate for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Once ready, cook the fruit on the stove at 105-108°C (221°F – 226°F) or 65Brix,
Pour into the pots while still boiling.
- Pros: Fast and quick method
- Cons: If you use chopped fruit, we lose the texture of the pieces of fruits inside the Jam.
DOUBLE COOKING METHOD
This technique is a more professional method, often used in Pastry because it allows obtaining a product that preserves the fruit’s original color. Furthermore, the fruits remain soft and perceptible inside the jar.
Mix the fruit with the sugar and macerate for 12 hours in the fridge at +4°C (39°F), covering with a plastic wrap.
Bring the mixture to a boil for a few minutes to dissolve all the sugar in the recipe. Pour again in a bowl, cover, and chill in the fridge for 12h. During this process, additional juice will be extracted from the fruit, increasing the concentration of pectin in the recipe.
After 12 hours, separate the fruit from the syrup using a sieve or colander.
Bring the syrup back to a boil, to 105-108°C (221°F – 226°F) or 65Brix (this is the most reliable measurement).
Remove the syrup from the heat and add the fruit.
Bring everything back to a boil for 5-10min, until it returns to 105°C(221°F) and pour into jars.
- Pros: Final product with excellent color and texture, because the pieces of fruit are not degraded during cooking
- Cons: Longer preparation time
HOW TO BALANCE JAM OR MARMALADE RECIPE
The balance of a jam or marmalade recipe varies according to many factors, not the least of which is one’s taste for a more or less sweet product.
Imagine we want to add little sugar in the recipe to have an apparently “lighter” product; this means we will obtain a fruit mixture with a low initial sugar level (few degrees Brix). Thus, It will have to cook for a longer time before having the recipe’s right sugar concentration (65 degrees Brix). As a result, the final color will be dark, and the taste quite bitter.
The Jam’s final color represents another factor to be considered when thinking about balancing the recipe. I often see strawberry or peach jams that are entirely brown because they are overcooked, and the fruit has been completely denatured.
I state that you can correctly balance your recipe based on the fruits’ sugar ONLY if you have a refractometer.
Here below is an indicative table of Brix degrees of different fruits used for Jams and Marmalades:
HOW MUCH SUGAR TO ADD TO THE FRUITS
MEASUREMENT OF FRUIT SUGAR
To correctly measure the sugar content, wash the fruit indicated in the recipe, cut and crus a small piece of fruit, and let some juice drops come out. Place the juice on the slide of the refractometer and direct it towards a light source. Looking through the eyepiece, you will see a graduated scale on which you can read the fruit’s Brix degrees. Let’s take 1kg of Strawberries as an example. You will most likely read a value of about 14 (depending on the fruit’s ripeness), which means that in 1kg of fruit, we have 140g of sugar (Brix = Sugar/Fruit weight * 100).
ADDITION OF GRANULATED SUGAR FOR STANDARD RECIPE
The quantity of sugar to add is calculated to obtain a base preparation of 64 degrees Brix, which will then be concentrated up to 65 degrees Brix, during cooking,
Straightforwardly, the sugar to add for each kilogram of fruit is calculated in this way:
640 – [degrees Brix measured in the fruit x 100].
In the previous example of 1 kilo of strawberries, the quantity of sugar to add is 640 – 140 = 500gr/kg of strawberries.
ADDING GRANULATED SUGAR FOR LOW SUGAR RECIPE
As above, but the target Brix degrees is 50, and we will bring them to 60 with cooking. In this case, you can obtain a jam or marmalade with a very fresh taste of fruit and with a slightly slower consistency than the previous one.
In this case, the formula becomes:
500 – [degrees Brix measured in the fruit x 100].
In the example of 1 kilo of strawberries, the quantity of sugar to add is 500 – 140 = 360gr/kg of strawberries.
WHAT ABOUT ACID?
Acid is a fundamental element for the pectin’s activation, which needs sugar and acidity to start its gelification reaction.
The acid commonly used in the preparation of Jams or marmalades is the Lemon juice(citric acid) in a ratio of about 20-30gr for each Kg of fruit.
The storage of Jam mainly depends on its sugar quantity and on the pasteurization process. If you take each step correctly, our Jam can last up to 2 years at room temperature and be stored in a fresh and dark place.
To ensure good preservation of the final product, it is necessary to carefully do 2 steps:
PREPARATION OF JARS
Once carefully washed, you can sterilize the (glass) jars boiling them for 5 minutes or heating them in an oven at 120°C (248°F) for 10 minutes. It is good practice to keep the jars sterile (and therefore boiling) until the Jam has been potted.
PASTEURIZATION OF THE JAM
Once the Jam has been bottled, you can close the glass with the lid, tightened and pasteurized in 2 ways:
Boiling water: you immerse the jars in boiling water for 15minutes to allow the heat to reach the product. After this time, turn off the stove and leave them in the water until they cool.
If you use the jars directly from the oven at 120°C (248°F) and pot the Jam as soon as it is removed from the stove, you can obtain a safe product that doesn’t need further pasteurization. In this case, once the lids have been placed and tightened, you can turn upside down the jars and let them cool, to form an air pocket on the surface of the product.
The starting ingredient for preparing delicious Fruit Jellies is the fruit juice or the fruit pulp. For this reason, we can use a direct cooking method, which consists in:
- Mix the pectin with 3 times its weight of sugar (e.g., 50gr of pectin in 150gr of sugar of the recipe), mixing thoroughly.
- Bring Fruit Pulp, Sugar, and Pectin to a boil, stirring gently.
- Add glucose syrup and cook until it reaches 109°C (228°F)
- Add the citric acid (or lemon juice), stirring for about 30 seconds.
- Remove from heat and immediately pour into a square pastry ring or a baking pan covered with greaseproof paper.
- Allow to gel at room temperature for 12 hours before cutting and tossing in the granulated sugar.
HOW TO BALANCE FRUIT JELLIES
The balance of fruit jellies differs from the Jams because of the higher sugar content (equal weight, compared to fruit). Moreover, we use Glucose syrup that gives a more delicate texture in the mouth and prevents re-crystallizing the recipe’s sugars.
Typically Jellies recipe is made of:
- Pulp and/or Juice of Fresh Fruit
- Sugar: 80% of the weight of fruit
- Glucose: 25% of the weight of fruit
- Yellow” Pectin: 25gr/Kg of Fruit