I know these are troubled times. Our country is in great difficulty, and like any Indian, I feel terrible in the manner of which the state of affairs are. It is important for us to keep our spirits up. We need all the positivity and goodwill we can find. Above all else, we need God to see us through and restore peace and normalcy in our land. There will soon be times of refreshing from the Lord, (Acts 3:19), and we shall tide past this by Grace alone… Kindly read on…
Sunitha’s mother made an amazing Pineapple jam when we were growing up and in school.
Sunitha was a dear classmate, super cute, piggy tails and all. And her mom was a housewife who made splendid jams, bread, biscuits, and pickles.
Our batch was special (all batches of school kids think the same way, don’t they?). A lot of us dint change school from Class 1 to Class 12.
Bitter and sweet, school memories never fade and we grow fond of each other over time. I think it also helps us stay grounded, for in school, everyone was raw. Our process of self-discovery, embarrassing moments which were inevitable, the foolish things we did being kids, and wish we dint, are they not all part of that story? 😊
Auntie made this amazing jam consistently for all those years.
Much later, as we grew up, and realisation dawned, we understood that it was just plain genius to do the same thing over and over and be consistent.
Simple affair, the jam consisted of fresh Pineapple pulp, and a particular variety of plantain called the Paalayan thodan pazham with sugar, cooked in heat and nothing else.
Yet, it was divine in taste and texture. It had golden strands of glistening pineapple in it, and believe me when I tell you, that it is no phantom memory.
Spoke to Auntie recently, and had a most delightful conversation, all things related to food.
She said, no two batches of jam will always taste the same, there would be variations, and I was reminded of Christine Ferber‘s statement,
“Remind yourself that no two jams are ever the same. From one year to another, one batch to another, a little thinner, a little thicker, each is different – that is what gives them their charm.”
Amazing that all cooks speak the same language, whether they’re world renowned or otherwise.
Love the tease in making jam and jellies, you have to lock the flavour in, and stop the cooking process at the right time. “Too early, and there is liquid in the jam that needs to evaporate. Too late, the jam sets solid and unscoupable…” and worse still, the flavour of the fruit is lost too.
Ever wondered the difference between jams, jellies and Marmalade? Here it is:
“A jam is a fruit preserve consisting of pieces of fruit cooked with sugar until they thicken and partially break down.”
“A jelly is an extracted fruit juice that has been combined with sugar, lemon juice, and (sometimes) added pectin and boiled until it sets.”
“A marmalade is a jelly with clearly defined pieces of fruit suspended in it.”
The husband got me a Copper pan for jamming last year, and I was waiting to put it to good use once Summer arrived.
A flat bottom Copper pot is perfect for jamming because,”… it allows efficient and even water evaporation. Also, Copper releases an acid when mixtures are cooked in it, and in this case it helps the pectin to set.”
If you don’t have one, fret not, a wide stainless-steel pan works just as fine. However, “Never use an aluminum pot when making jam; the acid in the fruit will react with the metal and leave a very bad metallic aftertaste.”
Jam aficionados know that the Mauviel pans are one of the best, but it was way too expensive for me to cart down, or get it shipped from abroad.
But hey, guess what…God is good! We have Mannar, the house for Copper-ware, close to where we live and I must say they did a grand job at recreating the same Mauviel pan. See…
You may work with or without the additional commercial pectin*.
I have come to understand it is best to avail the natural pectin within the fruit itself. If you are using a fruit with a low pectin content, you will need to add another fruit high in pectin, to compensate. That way your preserve is cent percent artisanal.
You may want to read up on high pectin fruits and low pectin fruits for a better understanding., http://motherskitchen.blogspot.com/2009/07/making-jams-without-using-boxed-pectin.html
Cleaning your Copper cookware:
“Copper oxidizes after it is left in the air for a day; the way to cook safely in it is to make a mixture of 2 parts vinegar, 1 part salt, and 1 part flour. Rub the mixture over the entire surface of the pot. You will see that all the oxidization will disappear instantly. Then rinse thoroughly with water, dry it well with a paper towel, and voilà! Your copper pot is ready for use for the entire day.”
This is what Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer recommends in his book, The Art of French Pastry.
Another method, which my mother suggested, is to wash the pot with Ash and tamarind, it will make your Copper-ware shine too. Both methods work.
“Some copper pots are sold for decoration only; these are very light. When choosing make sure that the pot is very heavy. A good copper pot will last generations and it is a wonderful tool to pass on to your children.”
Storing your jams and jellies:
We live in a humid climate and I always refrigerate my jams and jellies. They will stay intact in the fridge for over an year without any spoilage. Also, the feel of a cool jam on a warm toast is lovely.
My method is to wash the glass jars and place them in boiling hot water, and let them stay in there for a while. Drain the water and put them upright along with their lids, in an oven at 121 degrees C for half an hr. Take them out n fill them to the brim while still hot. Clean the sides for any drippings with clean wet cloth (all this with gloves on since the jam is hot, and so are the bottles) and turn them upside down . I then leave them that way at room temperature for a day.
I have tried not refrigerating them too, and the jams are good, but I am more comfortable keeping them in the fridge for some reason 😊
Now here is the jam recipe, I was raving about, in the beginning.
Believe me, you will be rewarded with a jam no specialty store can offer, promise.
Pineapple Jam Recipe:
1 kg Pineapple pulp, do not sieve
1/2 kg Paalayan thodan plantain, discard the seeds
Sugar :1. 5 kg
Bring the fruit pulp to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally.
Add the sugar, and keep stirring in order to prevent scorching on medium high heat.
After the initial foaming, the bubbles will be controlled and the jam will start looking shiny and a tad darker in shade.
Check the set, and the drip off the thavi (spoon) , and do the freezer test.
You may have to repeat doing this a couple of times, esp if you are a beginner in jam making, so consider keeping a few spoons and small saucers in the freezer while making your preserves.
Do remember, jams gel at 105 degree C, so if you don’t have a candy thermometer or therma-pen, you can always gauge it with a spoon test as mentioned above.
There are other methods, there’s the sheet test as well, to check for doneness of the jam – https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_07/jelly_point.html
Happy Jamming! May we all stay safe and well.
*Pectin is a complex carbohydrate molecule found in all fruits.
Bluechair jam book by Rachel Saunders https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Chair-Jam-Cookbook/dp/1449487637
The Art of French Pastry