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Stiff jam troubleshooting

Posted by veeta (My Page) on
Fri, Feb 4, 11 at 14:26

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.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Stiff jam troubleshooting

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?


RE: Stiff jam troubleshooting

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.

RE: Stiff jam troubleshooting

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.


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