One of America’s Favorites – Fruit preserves (Jams and Jellies)

November 26, 2012 at 10:50 AM | Posted in cooking | 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 preserves today often involves adding commercial or natural pectin as a gelling agent, although sugar or honey may be used, as well.

Strawberry jam, one type of common fruit preserve

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 savoury preserves of culinary vegetables, such as tomatoes or squash. In North America, 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

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

Confit, which is the past participle form of the French verb confire or “to preserve”, is most often applied to preservation of duck, goose or pigs, especially Lancashire and Pot-belly, by cooking them in their own fat or oils and allowing the fats to set. However, the term can also refer to fruit or vegetables which have been seasoned and cooked with honey or sugar until the mixture has reached a jam-like consistency. 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.

 

Conserves
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 alternate 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 contains both fruit juice and pieces of the fruit’s (or vegetable’s) flesh, although some cookbooks define jam as cooked and gelled fruit (or vegetable) purees.
Properly, the term “jam” refers to a product made with whole fruit, cut into pieces or crushed. The fruit is heated with water and sugar to activate the pectin in the fruit. The mixture is then put into containers. The following extract from a US cookbook describes the process.
“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)
Examples:
Peach blackberry jam (sweet, fruit)
Strawberry jam (sweet, fruit)
Variations
Uncooked or minimally cooked (less than 5 min) jams, called ‘freezer jam’ because they are stored frozen, are popular in parts of North America for their very fresh taste.

Jelly
Jelly is a clear or translucent fruit spread made from sweetened fruit (or vegetable) juice and set using naturally occurring pectin. Additional pectin may be added where the original fruit does not supply enough, for example with grapes.[12] 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.
“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)
Examples:
Grape jelly (sweet, fruit)
Mint jelly (savory)
Jalapeño pepper jelly (hot)

Marmalade
British-style marmalade is a sweet preserve with a bitter tang made from fruit, sugar, water, and (in some commercial brands) a gelling agent. American-style marmalade is sweet, not bitter. In English-speaking usage, marmalade almost always refers to a preserve derived from a citrus fruit, most commonly oranges, although onion marmalade is also used as an accompaniment to savory dishes.
The recipe includes sliced or chopped fruit peel, which is simmered in fruit juice and water until soft; indeed, marmalade is sometimes described as jam with fruit peel (although many companies now also manufacture peel-free marmalade). Such marmalade is most often consumed on toasted bread for breakfast. The favored citrus fruit for marmalade production in the UK is the Seville orange, Citrus aurantium var. aurantium, thus called because it was originally imported from Seville in Spain; it is higher in pectin than sweet oranges, and therefore gives a good set. Marmalade can also combine or be exclusively made from other type of citrus fruit; lime being a popular variant.

The term ‘preserves’ is usually interchangeable with ‘jam’. Some cookbooks define preserves as cooked and gelled whole fruit (or

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

vegetable), which includes a significant portion of the fruit.
The terms ‘jam’ and ‘jelly’ are used in different parts of the English-speaking world in different ways. In the United States, both jam and jelly are often referred to as ‘jelly’. Elsewhere in the English speaking world, the two terms are more strictly differentiated and, when this is not the case, the more usual generic term is ‘jam’.
To further confuse the issue, the term ‘jelly’ is also used in the UK, South Africa, Australia, India and New Zealand to refer to a gelatin dessert, known in North America as ‘jello’, derived from the brand name Jell-O.

In general, jam is produced by taking mashed or chopped fruit or vegetable pulp and boiling it with sugar and water. The proportion of 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),[citation needed] 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 the commercial filling of the jam into jars, it is common to use a flame to sterilize the rim of the jar and the lid to destroy any yeasts and molds which may cause spoilage during storage. It is also common practice to inject steam into the head space at the top of the jar immediately prior to the fitting of the lid, to create a vacuum. Not only does this vacuum help prevent the growth of spoilage organisms, but it also pulls down the tamper-evident safety button when lids of this type are employed.

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

Jelly worldwide

*Almond jelly, a sweet dessert from Hong Kong
*Coffee jelly features in many desserts in Japan.
*Jellied cranberry sauce is primarily a holiday treat in the U.S. and the UK.
*Grass jelly, a food from China and Southeast Asia, often served in drinks
*Konjac, a variety of Japanese jelly made from konnyaku
*Mayhaw jelly is a delicacy in parts of the American South.
*Muk, a variety of Korean jelly, seasoned and eaten as a cold salad
*Nata de coco, jelly made from coconuts originating from the Philippines
*Yōkan, a sweet, pasty jelly dessert from Japan often made with beans, sweet potato or squash
There are a variety of jellies in the cuisines of East and Southeast Asia. Depending on the type, they may be sweet or unsweetened.
Making jams and jellies

A jam is a fruit conserve in which sugar and fruit chunks are boiled together. In a jelly, the juice is pressed or boiled out of the fruit, filtered and then boiled again with sugar to reduce and thicken it. It is important to keep in mind that some fruits are better for making jellies and others are better used in jams. Generally speaking, it’s easier to make a jam than it is to make a jelly.
Recipe for Jam

Ingredients:
*a good quantity of soft, fleshy fruit like strawberries, peaches, cherries, plums, blueberries, brambles
*sugar or sugar with added pectin
*lemon juice

 

Instructions: Clean the fruit, remove any stones, leaves or other incomestible parts, and wash it. If the fruit is not a small berry, then cut it up into small pieces. Weigh the fruit and add the same weight of sugar to it. If you are using a very juicy fruit, you may prefer to use sugar with added pectin. Pectin is naturally present in most fruits and will cause the jam to “set”, but some fruits contain less pectin and some contain more, so it is often helpful to add some.
Sprinkle the fruit and sugar with lemon juice and stir well. Then cover the container and let the mixture rest for at least one hour in a clean, cool place to let the fruit absorb the sugar. After this, pour the mixture into a sufficiently large cooking pot. Traditionally a copper pot is used, but any other cooking pot will do fine. Bring the mixture slowly to the boil on a low fire, stirring regularly. Depending on the fruit, you will need to boil the mixture for about an hour. The jam is ready when it is thick enough. Check this by pouring a drop of the jam onto a cold plate. It should turn sticky and not be too runny.
To preserve the jam well, you should pour it into glass flasks or containers that have been sterilized by boiling them in water. You can also pasteurize the containers by washing them with boiling water. The inside of lids as well as the flasks should be washed if the latter method is used. The jam should be poured rapidly into the still-hot containers. The containers should be sealed with lids. In this case it’s best to let the air bubble that is in the flask traverse the still-hot jam by turning it upside-down after the lid has been placed on. This is to disinfect the air bubble. Or, instead of a lid, the jam can be protected by pouring molten paraffin on top of it, and closing of the jar with a paper that is held with a rubber band.
Serve with bread, toast, English muffins, or pancakes.

Kiwi – Lemon Cheesecake

May 7, 2012 at 4:44 PM | Posted in dessert, diabetes, diabetes friendly, fruits | 1 Comment
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Kiwi – Lemon Cheesecake

Came across this recipe in a Every Day Rachael Ray magazine and my Mom wanted to try it and what Mom wants Mom Gets! It really came out good! The Kiwi, Lemon Curd, and Philly Cream Cheese make a great trio. I used Philly No Fat Cream Cheese and a Keebler Graham Cracker Pie Shell.

Ingredients:

11 oz. Jar of Lemon Curd
4 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1 Store bought Graham Cracker Piecrust

Directions:

*Using an electric mixer, whip Lemon Curd and Cream Cheese until doubled in size, 3 minutes.
*Spoon into piecrust; freeze 10 minutes. Meanwhile, peel Kiwis, halve lengthwise and thinly slice. Scatter over filling.
*Refrigerate until ready to serve. (Serves 6 )

http://www.rachaelraymag.com/

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