Now that peaches -- and a few blueberries -- are starting to come in, home cooks, both novice and experience, want to make jelly or jam with the fruits.
Blueberries still are slow coming in this season and are pricey in the supermarkets. A reader asked for a blueberry jam or jelly recipe, so I thought a few preserving tips would be useful, too. Lynette Faul of Gulfport, Miss., has a recipe for the reader, too, as do I. A few years ago, Dora Harrison shared a skillet blueberry jam.
Jam and jelly differ from one another in texture and fruit form. Jelly is made from fruit juice and is clear and holds its shape when turned out of the jar, according to "Putting Fruit By," which was published in 1973 and is a great food preservation guide.
Jam is made from the crushed or ground fruit and is not as firm as jelly.
Jams and jellies are some of the first canning foods that novice cooks try, since there are only four essential ingredients: fruit, pectin, acid and sugar. Pectin is what makes jelly gel and is available in powdered or liquid forms. Sugar and acid also help the jelly gel or thicken, according to "Putting Fruit By." Lemon juice often is added to low-acid fruits. Sugar also acts as a preserving agent and adds to the flavor of the jam or jelly.
Following the recipe exactly is a must in making jam or jelly. The quantities of fruits, sugar, acid and pectin in a given recipe are tailored for success.
Fruits must not be overripe. A good equation, according to "Putting Fruit By," is three-fourths the amount of just-ripe fruit and one-fourth the amount of slightly underripe fruit.
The Manatee County Extension Service is a great source for preserv
ing and home canning tips. The question-and-answer sheets that the service offers are invaluable aids.
Readers, if you have any questions about jams or jellies or need a recipe, just email or send me a note. I will try to find the answers and the recipes.
"This recipe is out of my 'Ball Blue Book Guide To Canning,' " Faul said. "It is called Blueberry-Lime Jam, but I would say you could leave out the lime if you want. The recipe yields about six half-pints."
4- 1/2 cups blueberries
1 package powder pectin
5 cups sugar
1 tablespoon grated lime peel
1/3 cup lime juice
Crush blueberries one layer at a time. Combine crushed berries and powdered pectin in large sauce pot. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Stir in grated lime peel and juice.
Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving1/4-inch head space. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 15 minutes in boiling-water canner.
-- Submitted by Lynette Faul
The "Home Canning" booklet from the Extension Service says the two-piece caps (lids and screwbands) should be tightly screwed down before placing in the boiling water-bath canner or pressure-canner. Tightening after processing can result in breaking the seal.
SKILLET BLUEBERRY JAM
1 pint blueberries, mashed
2 tablespoons powdered fruit pectin (such as Sure Jell)
1/2 teaspoon margarine or butter
1 cup sugar
In a skillet (do not use cast iron), heat the blueberries, pectin and butter over medium-high heat; stir constantly until the mixture boils.
Stir in the sugar; bring back to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Pour the jam into 2 half-pint jars with tight fitting lids. Cover and refrigerate until the jam is set and cold.
Refrigerate up to 3 weeks or store in the freezer for up to a year. Thaw in the refrigerator.
-- Submitted by Dora Harrison
The following blueberry jelly and peach preserves recipes were given to me by a friend in Texas years ago.
2 quarts fresh or frozen blueberries
4 cups water
12 cups sugar
6 ounces liquid fruit pectin
Place blueberries in a large kettle and crush slightly. Add water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Strain through a jelly bag, reserving 6 cups juice. Pour juice into a large kettle; gradually stir in sugar until dissolved. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
Add pectin; bring to a full rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Skim foam.
Pour hot into sterilized hot jars, leaving1/4-inch headspace. Adjust caps. Process for 5 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Yield: 6 pints.
4 pounds peaches, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
1 package powdered pectin
2 tablespoons lemon juice
7 cups sugar
Prepare jars and closures according to manufacturer's instructions.
Measure 4 cups sliced peaches. Combine peaches, pectin and lemon juice in a large sauce pot. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally. Add sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Carefully ladle hot preserves into hot jars, leaving1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rim clean. Place lid on jar with sealing compound next to glass.
Screw band down evenly and firmly just until a point of resistance is met or fingertip tight. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.
Yield: about nine 8-ounce jars.
2 quarts cut-up apples, unpeeled and uncored
1 quart fresh blackberries
Combine cut-up apples and the blackberries. Just barely cover with water and set over moderate heat. Bring to boiling and cook about 25 minutes or until apples are very tender.
Turn into a cloth jelly bag and let drain several hours. Measure juice and add an equal amount of sugar as the juice. Set over high heat and bring to a full, rolling boil, stirring until sugar melts. Boil hard until mixture sheets or 220 degrees. Seal in hot sterilized jars.
Makes about 6 jars.
-- From "Putting Food By"
More red bean tips
"I lived in New Orleans for many years, and they all cooked red beans and served it with rice. I learned to use pickled pork (Rouse's has it)," Mary Elise Hubley said. "We would use a pack with about 1/2 pound of red beans. We would not put any kind of tomatoes in the beans but use other seasonings. When the beans are done, we would take a big spoon and mash some of them in the pot and this would thicken the gravy a little. We did not add broth. Just thought you might like to try this. We would cook the sausage separately and add it to the cooked beans."
Wanted: Eggplant La Rosa
"The eggplants in my garden are starting to come in. I would love some of Vrazel's Eggplant La Rosa," Dara Skinner said. "Has Bill Vrazel shared the recipe for it? If you have it, would you be so kind to share it with me? This is husband Frank's favorite dish in the whole world!"
Will Vrazel share the recipe? I will ask.
Andrea Yeager, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, takes contributions or requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567. If requesting a recipe, include the name or describe it.