My husband and I have been making jam for a couple of years, and last holiday season we decided to get creative with our jam making so we created holiday themed “stained glass” jam and they were such a hit with friends and family that I wanted to share them here.
We used Fruit Roll Ups and some home made cookie cutters (courtesy of my husband’s 3D plastic printer) to stamp out festive shapes, like Christmas trees.
We tried several types, and found that while Fruit By the Foot was easiest to cut out into shapes, its narrow width limited us to small shapes, like hearts and fish (we aren’t especially religious, but several of our family members would appreciate the symbolism). The all natural “fruit leather” products were much too thick to stamp shapes from, and refused to stick to the inside of the jars. Fruit Roll Ups were both thin enough to stamp, and wide enough to make a basic tree shape. The Gushers were determined to be delicious.
Once the shapes were cut, we stuck them inside our very clean half pint mason jars and began making our Peach Pineapple Mango jam. We chose this flavor because it was a big hit with our friends last time, and because it allowed the colors of the shapes to shine through.
This is our basic jam recipe, with details listed for the Peach Pineapple Mango flavor, but you could use any fruit, or combination or fruits, that you enjoy.
To make jam you’ll need:
- 2 lbs of fruit, give or take (we used 1 cored fresh pineapple, two ripe mangoes and a 1 lb bag of frozen peaches thawed).
- 4 to 5 cups of sugar
- 1 box of pectin=7 or so tbsp.
- Cooking pot (around 1 gallon).
- Stirring implement.
- 4 very clean pint jars or 8 or 9 half pint jars with very clean or new lids (its good to boil the lids too).
- Blending device.
- Put a small plate in the freezer.
- Put fruit and 2-3 cups of sugar into a blending device (we used a Cuisinart). Blend it as much as you want.
- Put 2 cups of sugar and a box of pectin in a big cooking pot. Dump in about half of the mixture you just made.
- Turn on the burner somewhere in the “heat things quickly” range. Stir this mixture constantly.
- Give it a rolling boil for 60 seconds. It’s cool to go over by a few seconds, but try not to go under. The point here is that the pectin needs this temperature for at least 60 seconds to undergo its chemical reaction.
- Add the rest of the sugar. Stir it in and wait for the mixture to bubble a little bit…
- Dump in the rest of the smoothie. Stir constantly.
- Boil again for 60-70 seconds while stirring. Watch out for foam and splashes (an oven mitt on your stirring hand is a good idea) If the foam threatens to boil out of the pot, you’re doing it right. Then shut off the heat and remove the pot from the burner.
- Dip a little bit of this sugary lava onto that plate you stuck in the freezer (just let it run off your stir stick). If it sort-of hardens up in 30 seconds (may still be a little runny) then you’re good to go. If not, keep the jelly on low heat for another minute or two. Lick jelly off plate.
- Let the pot sit on low heat for a couple of minutes. Then scrape off the foam with a slotted spoon. You don’t want it in the jelly, but it still tastes awesome.
- Dump sugar lava into canning jars (used jelly jars will work too). Warm canning jars are ideal. If you don’t have a canning funnel, use a ladle so you don’t spill all over the place. Leave about 1/2″ of space at the top. Leave the caps off for a couple of minutes. Wipe away any jammy globs from the lip of the jars. this is a good time to start heating the water to boil or pressure can them.
- Put the caps on and can them. (submerge them in boiling water for 15 minutes or stick them in a pressure cooker with an inch or two of water in it on a medium setting for 5 minutes. Start the timer when the water is boiling or the steam is venting) Note: make sure the water is pretty warm before you put the jars in it, or they may crack. I prefer the pressure cooker method. It’s overkill, but it guarantees that anything alive in the jars is well cooked.
- *NOTE: Boiling them for too long will melt your fruit roll up shapes into bluish blobs. I boiled them for 5 minutes… enough to get the lids to seal, I suppose, but they should be gifted, opened and eaten in the next couple months.
- Set them on a towel to cool. Pulling them out of the water is tricky without a jar lifter. Check the tightness of the lids, as they tend to loosen up a little bit in the canning process.
- Note: Doing as many steps as you can at the same time will speed up the process. Also, if you’re dealing with really sweet fruits, such as kiwis or over-ripe strawberries and peaches, add a splash of lemon juice to the mixture. This helps the pectin do its thing.
- Note 2: If, after a day or two, your jelly is still syrup, you can dump them back in the pot and reprocess them with more pectin and a little bit more sugar and fruit. Add a splash of lemon juice, too. Or you can have syrup. Either way, you win.
What do you think? Do you have a favorite jam recipe that you like to make for your loved ones?