How to Pick the Perfect Pectin for Homemade Jam

| 7/16/2015 12:12:00 PM

Tags: food preservation, berries, jam, Vermont, Andrea Chesman,

Jam on Toast 

Toast with jam.

If you’ve been making jam for years, you may be in a jam rut. And if you’ve never made jam before, you may be about to fall into a rut, and it all starts with where you do grocery shopping. A little known fact: Which brand of commercial pectin you buy matters in terms of taste, texture, and how fast you are likely to get in and out of the kitchen.

Where to Find Pectin for Jam Making

Pectin is what makes a jam or jelly gel. It is naturally found in the cell walls of most fruit and is particularly concentrated in apples and citrus, from which it is derived. Before commercial pectins, our grandmothers made jam by cooking down fruit, slowly, slowly to keep it from scorching. Today, we can get higher yields and spend less time in the kitchen by using commercial pectins.

 If you shop in a supermarket, you are mostly like to find Certo liquid or Sure-jel powdered pectin. If you shop at a natural foods store or food co-op, you are likely to find Pomono’s Universal Pectin. If you shop in a hardware store, you are likely to find Ball’s Classic Pectin or Low-Sugar or No-Sugar Pectin, but only if you shop early in the season (hardware stores usually don’t restock preserving supplies once they’re gone).

Sweeten to Taste

The way to make a jam that tastes vividly of fruit is to sweeten to taste, and that means adding a modest amount of sweetener. I don’t recommend going no-sugar or extremely low-sugar, because the jam won’t taste as wonderful as it can taste, and it won’t keep long at all after the jar has been opened.

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