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Lucretia B's International Cookbook Lucretia B's Amazing International Cookbook

Preserves, jams and fruit butters







The Language of Jams

Lucretia B

Making jams is one of the most creative and fun activities (at least, as far as cooking is concerned). In my long experience of making jams to use up excess fruits from the backyard, I have noticed a huge discrepancy between the idea of how to make preserves, as found in traditional cookbooks, and the results of my personal experiments. There are no strict rules for making jams, fruit syrups and, to some extent, jellies; rather, you can customize your own recipes, mix different fruits, change proportions, and you can still be assured of successful results.
The only really important point to keep in mind is that the amount of sugar and the method you choose for canning jams determine how long your product will last. In practice, if your jam turns out to be popular, it will be long gone before its use by day!
Besides some of my favourite recipes, I'd like to share with you my experience with jams & fruit preserves in general. This is my personal method, which I have developed putting together different ideas. I call it

MJL - Magic Jam Language

Red tomato jam

Thanks: Antonio Bonati [ cec.b --at-- libero.it ], Italy

Ingredients
3 kg tomatoes (see text)
3 small apples (see text)
juice of 3 lemons
grated rind from 1 lemon (only the yellow zest)
1.7 to 2 kg sugar (depending on your tastes)
50 mls brandy, or rum, or grappa
Method
Our recipe starts... from the seed, in that we have used our own tomatoes, which we have grown in an area with nice clean air and using no chemical additives, no pesticides, no fertilizers. All we did was using our good, rich soil, with good drainage and regular watering (3 times a night, using an automatic pump).
We have used Roma (plump shaped) and red cherry tomatos, picked when fully ripe but nice and plump (this is very important), and completely red.
Rinse the tomatoes under cool running water; chop in half and squeeze, discarding seeds and excess juice.
In a large pot, place tomatoes, lemon juice and rind. Start cooking on low heat, stirring and skimming often, and gradually increasing the heat. Simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and press through a hair sieve to extract the pulp. Place the pulp back into the pot, add sugar and simmer until the jam has reached the desired consistency, making sure to stir and skim regularly.
Add the brandy (or rum or grappa), give a quick stir and remove from heat. Fill up the jars, leaving a 1/2 inch gap at the top, and seal with lid.
Our jam also includes 3 small apples, which should be peeled and cored before addition because pectin, which might thicken this jam too much, is mainly contained in apple peels and seeds.

Peach & cocoa jam

Thanks: Giulia Settimo [ giulia.settimo --at-- iol.it ], Italy

Ingredients
ripe peaches
600 g sugar for each kg of peaches
2 heaped tbs plain cocoa powder for each kg of peaches
Method
Prepare peaches as described above (MJL), reserving 1 cup of sugar. Simmer for half an hour, then add the cocoa powder, thoroughly mixed with the reserved sugar. Cook for another 60 to 90 minutes, stirring frequently.

Apricot & ginger jam

Lucretia B

Ingredients
ripe apricots (halved)
500 g sugar for each kg of apricots
1/2 tb fresh grated ginger for each kg of apricots
Method
Prepare apricots as described above (MJL). Bring fruit and sugar to a full boil, then add grated ginger. Simmer for 60 to 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pear & cinnamon jam

Lucretia B

Ingredients
ripe pears (green pears are the best)
500 to 600 g of sugar for each kg of pears
1 lemon for each kg of pears
1 ts ground cinnamon for each kg of pears
Method
Prepare pears as described above (MJL). Peel and cut into tiny strips, or grate the lemon rind; squeeze the juice and add juice and rind to the mixture of fruit and sugar. Bring the prepared mixture to a full boil, then add cinnamon. Simmer for 60 to 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Spicy apple butter

Lucretia B

Ingredients
cooking apples, unpeeled but cored
500 g sugar for each kg of apples
1 large lemon for each kg of apples
1/2 cup white wine for each kg of apples
cardamom or nutmeg
Method
Prepare apples as described above (MJL). Peel and cut into tiny strips, or grate the lemon rind; squeeze the juice and add juice, rind and wine to the mixture of fruit and sugar. Bring the prepared mixture to a full boil, then add cardamom or grated nutmeg to taste. Simmer for 60 to 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and put everything through a press, discarding the peels. Put the remaining mixture back in the pot and simmer until the apple butter is a thick, dark brown mass.

Fruit compote

Les recettes de Germaine

Ingredients
apples and other ripe mixed fruits
400 to 500 g sugar for each kg of fruit
raisins or currants (optional)
1 ts cinnamon or mixed spices for each kg of fruit
Method
This is a nice recipe for using up all types of fruit, but at least 2 apples for each kg of fruit are required. Raisins or currants, washed under cold running water, are a nice plus; if you are using raisins, the amount of sugar can be reduced. Prepare the fruit as described above (MJL), chopping up apples and other big fruits. Mix spices and sugar before soaking the fruit. Cook until apples are tender. Fruit compote should be frozen, rather than canned. Serve it with custard or cream for a nice, quick dessert, or add it to yogurt and cereals for breakfast.

Fruit syrup

Lucretia B

Ingredients
ripe juicy fruit
1 to 1 1/2 kg sugar for each kg of fruit
Method
In my experience, the best fruit for syrups are berries, plums (the round, soft, juicy type) and grapes. Wash and drain the fruit; pit the plums if you can; pick the grapes off the stem. If you're using berries or plums, cover them evenly with sugar and let them stand overnight (16 to 24 hours). Grapes should rather be cooked straight away and, if particularly sweet, require less sugar.
Bring the mixture of fruit and sugar to a full boil over low heat and simmer for at least half an hour, stirring frequently and mashing the fruit with a wooden spoon. Cooking times depend on the fruit and on the stove: you need to cook the fruit long enough to reduce it to a very liquid puree. At this point, remove from heat and drain through a medium meshed sieve, pressing down the pulp and trying to squeeze out as much juice as you can.
Return the juice to the stove and bring to a full boil again. You can pour the juice into glass jars or bottles at this point, or cook it longer. In this case, you'll get a thicker syrup, but you will probably lose more of the fruit's virtues.

Basic tomato sauce

Lucretia B

Ingredients
Fresh ripe tomatoes (Roma are the best)
Table or Kosher salt
Fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry in a clean kitchen cloth (optional)
Method
Cut tomatoes in half, sprinkle with salt and place the tomatoes face down in a colander for half an hour or more.
Gently squeeze out of the tomatoes as many seeds as you can, and then place the tomatoes in a large kettle. Cover and simmer gently for a few minutes (5 to 10). DON'T STIR! Drain away the yellow "juice", because it is very sour and it could deteriorate your sauce. Using a food mill (or a Squeezo, or one of the special accessories some food processors come with), separate the pulp from the skin.
Place the pulp back in the pan and bring to a boil. Following the directions given above, pour the sauce into previously prepared glass jars. As an optional extra, before filling the jar with sauce you can add a few leaves of basil in each jar.
Cover each jar with its lid as soon as it's full. Place jars in the "sleeping box", storing them close together.
This is the way we make tomato sauce for winter storage. It keeps for at least one year. You can use this basic sauce as a base for any kind of spaghetti sauce. As it has a very natural tomato flavour, it's also perfect for stews, soups, pizza, and all sorts of other tomato based preparations.


Last updated 28 jun 2011

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