Stiff jam troubleshooting

veetaFebruary 4, 2011

Two of my early jam attempts have been delicious but stiff--like hard to get a spoon in stiff. (I just pop the jar in the microwave when I eat them.)

I'll provide some info to help you in determining what I am doing wrong.

These were both made without pectin

1) Pear jam (Linda Ziedrich recipe) I think because my pears were too ripe, I ended up with too much sugar because I stuck to the recipe but probably lost some pear in the processing. I can't remember too much about my cooking process--but I am fairly certain I cooked too long.

2) Blueberry jam (from a book similar to the Ball handbook) Even though this is a low-pectin fruit, this one is stiff too. I simmered a meyer lemon peel in the cooking jam, so that must have added some pectin, but I suspect I also overcooked this.

Overcooking seems the obvious culprit. I think I was so worried about it not gelling that I overcompensated. I used a thermometer, but because my pan is shallow I may not be getting accurate readings. Should the jam be removed from heat as soon as 220 degrees is reached--like that very second? I am also doing plate tests, but because I have never made fresh jams, making them for canning is a mystery.

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Overcooking seems the obvious culprit.

You got it. ;) Over-cooking is the primary cause of hard set. The temp depends on your altitude. What is it?

Dave

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 3:11PM
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veeta

I am at sea level, so I need to just go for it next time. I can always re-process if it is too soft I suppose.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 3:36PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

You can stir in a tablespoon or so of warm water to thin the contents if you find it too stiff to be usable. However, it may taste a bit caramelized due to the over-cooking.

Even a low-pectin preserve if cooked too long will thicken, but it's more a result of water evaporated out than true jelling.

And yes, I've found it nearly impossible to get an accurate temperature reading if the preserve isn't deep enough in the pan.

Carol

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 5:56PM
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