One of America’s Favorites – Fruit Preserves

August 5, 2013 at 9:27 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 1 Comment
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Fruit preserves are preparations of fruits, vegetables and sugar, often canned or sealed for long-term storage. The preparation of fruit

Strawberry jam, one type of common fruit preserve

Strawberry jam, one type of common fruit preserve

preserves today often involves adding commercial or natural pectin as a gelling agent, although sugar or honey may be used, as well. Before World War II, fruit preserve recipes did not include pectin, and many artisan jams today are made without pectin. The ingredients used and how they are prepared determine the type of preserves; jams, jellies and marmalades are all examples of different styles of fruit preserves that vary based upon the ingredients used.
Many varieties of fruit preserves are made globally, including sweet fruit preserves, such as strawberry, as well as savory preserves of culinary vegetables, such as tomatoes or squash. In American English, the plural form “preserves” is used to describe all types of jams and jellies. In British and Commonwealth English most fruit preserves are simply called jam, with the singular preserve being applied to high fruit content jam, often for marketing purposes. Additionally, the name of the type of fruit preserves will also vary depending on the regional variant of English being used.
Variations

Five varieties of fruit preserves (clockwise from top): apple, quince, plum, squash, orange (in the center)

Five varieties of fruit preserves (clockwise from top): apple, quince, plum, squash, orange (in the center)

Chutney
A chutney is a pungent relish of Indian origin made of fruit, spices and herbs. Although originally intended to be eaten soon after production, modern chutneys are often made to be sold, so require preservatives – often sugar and vinegar – to ensure they have a suitable shelf life. Mango chutney, for example, is mangoes reduced with sugar.

 

 

Confit
While confit, the past participle of the French verb confire, “to preserve”, is most often applied to preservation of meats, it is also used for fruits or vegetables seasoned and cooked with honey or sugar till jam-like. Savory confits, such as ones made with garlic or fennel, may call for a savory oil, such as virgin olive oil, as the preserving agent.

 

 

A conserve

A conserve, or whole fruit jam, is a jam made of fruit stewed in sugar.
Often the making of conserves can be trickier than making a standard jam, because the balance between cooking, or sometimes steeping in the hot sugar mixture for just enough time to allow the flavor to be extracted from the fruit, and sugar to penetrate the fruit, and cooking too long that fruit will break down and liquefy. This process can also be achieved by spreading the dry sugar over raw fruit in layers, and leaving for several hours to steep into the fruit, then just heating the resulting mixture only to bring to the setting point. As a result of this minimal cooking, some fruits are not particularly suitable for making into conserves, because they require cooking for longer periods to avoid issues such as tough skins. Currants and gooseberries, and a number of plums are among these fruits.
Because of this shorter cooking period, not as much pectin will be released from the fruit, and as such, conserves (particularly home-made conserves) will sometimes be slightly softer set than some jams.
An alternative definition holds that conserves are preserves made from a mixture of fruits and/or vegetables. Conserves may also include dried fruit or nuts.

 

 

Fruit butter
Fruit butter, in this context, refers to a process where the whole fruit is forced through a sieve or blended after the heating process.
“Fruit butters are generally made from larger fruits, such as apples, plums, peaches or grapes. Cook until softened and run through a sieve to give a smooth consistency. After sieving, cook the pulp … add sugar and cook as rapidly as possible with constant stirring… The finished product should mound up when dropped from a spoon, but should not cut like jelly. Neither should there be any free liquid.”—Berolzheimer R (ed) et al. (1959)

 

 

Fruit curd
Fruit curd is a dessert topping and spread usually made with lemon, lime, orange, or raspberry. The basic ingredients are beaten egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice and zest which are gently cooked together until thick and then allowed to cool, forming a soft, smooth, intensely flavored spread. Some recipes also include egg whites and/or butter.

 
Fruit spread
Fruit spread refers to a jam or preserve with no added sugar.

 
Jam
Jam typically contains both the juice and flesh of a fruit or vegetable, although some cookbooks define it as a cooked and jelled puree.
In the US, the term “jam” refers to a product made of whole fruit cut into pieces or crushed then heated with water and sugar to activate its pectin before being put into containers:
“Jams are usually made from pulp and juice of one fruit, rather than a combination of several fruits. Berries and other small fruits are most frequently used, though larger fruits such as apricots, peaches, or plums cut into small pieces or crushed are also used for jams. Good jam has a soft even consistency without distinct pieces of fruit, a bright color, a good fruit flavor and a semi-jellied texture that is easy to spread but has no free liquid.” – Berolzheimer R (ed) et al. (1959 )
Freezer jam is uncooked (or cooked less than 5 minutes), then stored frozen. It is popular in parts of North America for its very fresh taste…

 

 

Jelly
Jelly is an American term for clear or translucent fruit spread made from sweetened fruit (or vegetable) juice and set using naturally occurring pectin (the word signifies a gelatin based dessert in British English). Additional pectin may be added where the original fruit does not supply enough, for example with grapes. Jelly can be made from sweet, savory or hot ingredients. It is made by a process similar to that used for making jam, with the additional step of filtering out the fruit pulp after the initial heating. A muslin or stockinette “jelly bag” is traditionally used as a filter, suspended by string over a bowl to allow the straining to occur gently under gravity. It is important not to attempt to force the straining process, for example by squeezing the mass of fruit in the muslin, or the clarity of the resulting jelly will be compromised. Jelly can come in all sorts of flavors such as grape jelly, strawberry jelly and much more. It also can be used on or with a variety of foods. This includes jelly with toast, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“Good jelly is clear and sparkling and has a fresh flavor of the fruit from which it is made. It is tender enough to quiver when moved, but holds angles when cut.
EXTRACTING JUICEPectin is best extracted from the fruit by heat, therefore cook the fruit until soft before straining to obtain the juice … Pour cooked fruit into a jelly bag which has been wrung out of cold water. Hang up and let drain. When dripping has ceased the bag may be squeezed to remove remaining juice, but this may cause cloudy jelly.” – Berolzheimer R (ed) et al. (1959)

 

 

Marmalade
Marmalade is a fruit preserve made from the juice and peel of citrus fruits boiled with sugar and water. It can be produced from lemons, limes, grapefruits, mandarins, sweet oranges, bergamots and other citrus fruits, or any combination thereof.
The benchmark citrus fruit for marmalade production in Britain is the Spanish Seville orange, Citrus aurantium var. aurantium, prized for its high pectin content, which gives a good set. The peel has a distinctive bitter taste which it imparts to the preserve. In America marmalade is sweet.
Marmalade is generally distinguished from jam by its fruit peel.

 

 

In general, jam is produced by taking mashed or chopped fruit or vegetable pulp and boiling it with sugar and water. The proportion of

Jam being made in a pot

Jam being made in a pot

sugar and fruit varies according to the type of fruit and its ripeness, but a rough starting point is equal weights of each. When the mixture reaches a temperature of 104 °C (219 °F), the acid and the pectin in the fruit react with the sugar, and the jam will set on cooling. However, most cooks work by trial and error, bringing the mixture to a “fast rolling boil”, watching to see if the seething mass changes texture, and dropping small samples on a plate to see if they run or set.
Commercially produced jams are usually produced using one of two methods. The first is the open pan method, which is essentially a larger scale version of the method a home jam maker would use. This gives a traditional flavor, with some caramelization of the sugars. The second commercial process involves the use of a vacuum vessel, where the jam is placed under a vacuum, which has the effect of reducing its boiling temperature to anywhere between 65 and 80 °C depending on the recipe and the end result desired. The lower boiling temperature enables the water to be driven off as it would be when using the traditional open pan method, but with the added benefit of retaining more of the volatile flavor compounds from the fruit, preventing caramelization of the sugars, and of course reducing the overall energy required to make the product. However, once the desired amount of water has been driven off, the jam still needs to be heated briefly to 95 to 100 °C to kill off any micro-organisms that may be present; the vacuum pan method does not kill them all.
During commercial filling it is common to use a flame to sterilize the rim and lid of jars to destroy any yeasts and molds which may cause spoilage during storage. Steam is commonly injected immediately prior to lidding to create a vacuum, which both helps prevent spoilage and pulls down tamper-evident safety button when used.

 

 

Glass jars are an efficient method of storing and preserving jam. Though sugar can keep for exceedingly long times, containing it in a jar is far more useful than older methods. Other methods of packaging jam, especially for industrially produced products, include cans, and plastic packets, especially used in the food service industry for individual servings.

 

 

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