I recently started learning more about making jam and how to properly preserve fruits. Now is a great time to learn because there is so much fresh fruit at the market that you can make into jam and enjoy all year long! This jam has about 50% less sugar than your typical recipe and has no added pectin. The only ingredients are tayberry, lemon zest/juice, and organic cane sugar. A tayberry is cross between a red raspberry and a blackberry. If you want to learn more about the tayberry, click here.
If you are just starting out, I highly recommend “It Starts with Fruit” by Jordan Champagne (Happy Girl Kitchen). She goes over food safety, misconceptions, and the attributes of different fruits. This book is extremely well-written and approachable. She also includes recipes for drinks, pie fillings, and other “misfits” like chutneys and candied peels. I benefitted from her troubleshooting section when I didn’t get my jam the right consistency the first time!
Canning can be intimidating. Nobody wants to open a mason jar and find mold in there! Nobody wants to worry, “Am I going to make people sick if I give this away?”
Not to fear! Almost all yeasts, molds, and bacteria are very temperature sensitive. Most will die when exposed to temperatures greater than 175 degrees F and kept there for 5-10 minutes. I used the hot water bath method, meaning these jars sat in boiling water (212 degrees F) for 10 minutes.
The thing to worry about is the bacteria spore botulism spungum. Botulism spores can survive boiling temperatures. However, they are sensitive to acidity. Fruits, lemons, and sugar are more on the acidic end of the scale (below pH 4.6) so we are in the clear.
Jordan goes into much more detail about this in her book. Just to be safe- follow recipes as they are published and don’t try to mess around with the acidity (especially until you learn more about how your modifications impact the pH).
Pectin is a naturally occurring substance in fruit and vegetable cell walls that helps provide structure. When pectin is combined with sugar and acid, it provides the gelling or thickening agent to get that jam consistency. Some jam recipes call for added pectin to help firm it up. However, this is not necessary. Working with added pectin can be challenging and perhaps give you a jam TOO firm (like Jell-O). Working with the natural pectin and testing your consistency often gives you more control over the final texture of your jam.
Did you know that most jam recipes call for equal ratios of fruit to sugar (i.e. 1 pound fruit, 1 cup sugar)? This recipe has 1 cup of organic cane sugar to every 2 pounds fruit. This results in a much more intense fruit flavor. Jordan doesn’t believe that you need to add that much sugar to jams in order to make something taste delicious. I agree with her! I am not somebody who shies away from sugar in my baking but when preserving fruits, don’t you want to highlight the natural flavor of the fruit?
What is the plate test?
The plate test is a way to observe the final consistency of your jam while you are still reducing it. The jam will naturally firm up when it cools down to room temperature. In order to help test this while you are still reducing, place a couple plates in the freezer. Every 5-10 minutes, put a teaspoon of the jam on the frozen plate and put it back in the freezer for 4 minutes. When you take it out, you should not feel any warmth on the bottom of the plate. Tilt the plate straight up and down and observe how the fruit falls down the plate. If it is runny and has lots of legs, it needs more time reducing. You want it to slowly move down the plate as one unit.
So far, I have made apricot vanilla jam, this tayberry jam, and I want to make strawberry lavender next. Comment below with your favorite jam flavors! Do you have any questions about canning?
Tayberry Lemon Jam
- Large nonreactive pot
- 10 4oz mason jars
- Canning pot
- Candy thermometer
- Kitchen scale
- 4 lbs tayberries (or raspberries)
- 4 lemons (juice & zest)
- 2 cups organic cane sugar
Macerate (1-2 days in advance)
- Put tayberries in a large bowl. Sprinkle lemon juice, lemon zest, and cane sugar over the berries. You do not need to mix it together, gravity will help you! Let it macerate at room temperature for 12-48 hours. See notes.
- Put 4-5 small plates in the freezer. You will use these for your plate tests.
- Pour your fruit mixture into a large, non-reactive pot. The fruit mixture should not be more than 1/3 of the way full. See notes.
- Bring the mixture to a boil. Continuously stir to prevent burning. Start your first plate test after 10 minutes. Continue plate tests every 5 minutes or so. Keep boiling until you reach your desired considency (around 20-30 minutes). Remove pot from heat.
- Fill your prepared mason jars, leaving about 1/2 inch of space before the top of the jar. Use one hand to loosely seal the lid on the jars. You don't want a seal too tight because you want air to be able to release.
Hot water bath
- Boil water in a canning pot. You need enough water to cover the lids of the mason jars (I did about 5 inches above the lids).
- Lower the jars into the boiling water. You will see bubbles coming out of the jars. Watch the temperature on a temperature thermometer. Once the temperature reaches 212 degrees F, start your timer for 10 min.
- Carefully remove the mason jars- they will be very hot! Use gloves to tightly close the lids. You will hear popping- this is a good thing! It means your jars are sealed.
- Store in a cool, dark place for up to a year.
- Tayberries, like raspberries, can get waterlogged. Jordan does not recommend washing your fruit before macerating it unless you have to. Use organic fruits! If you do wash your tayberries, be sure to line them on a paper towel and carefully pat them dry before using.
- You need a big pot so your jam doesn’t spill over as it expands. You can boil it down quicker when it is not as full by using high heat the entire time to preserve color and flavor. If you fill the pot too full, it would increase the cooking time, impacting color and flavor.