It is sad that so much knowledge has been lost with our ancestors. Technology has taken over and many skills have been long forgotten. Skills that are still very valuable especially on the homestead! I'm grateful that there is an emerging trend to re-learn these skills. One such being how to make a pectin free jam and preserving other homegrown foods!.
There is still one thing that baffles me, the copious amounts of sugar. Surely our ancestors did not use this much sugar! One recipe we looked at called for 6-7 cups of sugar to 5 cups of fruit! That much sugar surely erases all the health benefits of the fruit!
As you may know I homeshool our children. History is our favorite subject. As part of our curriculum we read lots and lots of non-fiction, first hand account books. It is obvious that they canned and canned and canned to preserve the summer's abundance. Another obvious fact is that the people who were canning were ususaly from families that didn't have deep pockets. It doesn't make sense that they would have the money for all the sugar that is called for in the recipes we have found.
Either way, we are not having all that sugar! I've included the original recipe and how we adjusted it at the bottom of the post as well as a few tips that I go over in the video. You can decide what works best for you.
How to Make Old-Fashioned Pectin-free Jam With a Twist
4 cups of fruit juice
3 cups of sugar
*This recipe works best with apples, crabapples, and grapes because they naturally have a higher pectin content. If you plan on using the chia seed trick then this is not so important.
*Chia seeds (optional) see below for more details
Directions: Combine fruit juice and sugar. Add any needed lemon juice (see below). Perform pectin test. Boil mixture for 25 minutes ( longer if processing a larger volume). In the meantime prepare your jars and lids.
Fill jars leaving 1/4" headspace. Process half pint jars for 10 minutes and pint jars for 15. Don't start the time until there is a rolling boil. When processing time is complete remove the lid and let sit for 5 minutes. Now careful remove the jars. Do not disturb for a minimum of 12 hours. Once jars are completely cooled remove bans and wipe down the jars with a wet cloth.
We had 44 cups of grape juice and we used 16 cups of sugar. So that is just under half the recommended amount. I can not imagine how sweet it would be if we used the entire amount of recommended sugar. Far too sweet for us and far too harmful for our health. The 16 cups seems bad enough as it is. We do however use turbinado style sugar or sucanat which is less processed than white sugar which makes it a little better.
You will want to make sure that you use Non-GMO and or organic sugar. Sugar beets, which is where much of the sugar supply comes from, are genetically modified. C & H sugar is made from sugar cane and is non-GMO project verified. Our favorite sugar to use is Wholesome Sweetner's Organic sucanat or turbinado style sugar. You can substitute either cup for cup.
Sugar helps the jam thicken. If you choose to use less your jam will not get as thick and less you cook it down more which will then give the same sugar concentration as if you used more sugar only it takes longer. To get around this and make our jam healthier and more versatile we used less sugar and opted to add chia seeds. We boiled our juice to a syrup consistency and canned it at that point. From here we can use it as is for pancakes or French toast or we can add chias seeds after opening the jar. The chia seeds are healthy seeds that have the ability to jell -up. Add a tbsp or two to your jar and you have jam! I recommend grinding them so that your body is able to get the full benefit from them.
Testing for Enough Acid in Fruit
1 tsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp sugar
The acid level is also a key factor in how your jam is going to set. In order to make sure your jam has enough acid mix the lemon water and sugar. Now taste is and compare it to your fruit juice. Which is sweeter? If the fruit juice is sweeter then add 1 Tbsp of lemon for each cup of juice to increase the acid level.
How to Perform a Pectin Test
Perform acid test and add any required lemon before performing the pectin test.
This is a long boil jam recipe. You want to make sure that your fruit has enough pectin in it to enable it to jell up. The following is an OBSERVATIONAL test. Please DO NOT TASTE IT! We are just taking an observation to see if it reaches the right consistency.
To perform the test mix 1 tsp of fruit juice with 1 tbsp of rubbing alcohol. Mix contents in a closed container by gently shaking it. If there is enough pectin in the fruit then the juice will turn into a solid jelly like mass.
If it doesn't have enough pectin then you can make syrup like us and add the chia seeds just before using.
When you pick your fruit it is good to gather some that isn't ripe. The unripe fruit has a higher pectin content. Using up to 1/3 unripe fruit will increase the pectin content and help your fruit pass the pectin test. Be careful, some fruits are poisonous when they aren't ripe so make sure you know what your dealing with.
PLEASE SEE VIDEO FOR FULL CANNING INSTRUCTIONS
Remember to never eat the contents of any stored jar if you have found the seal to be broken whether there is mold or not. Botulism has no taste or smell. The high acid levels used for safe water bath canning make an unfriendly environment for botulism but it is never worth the risk.
So what did you guys think of the video? I have been working hard to learn more about editing and all that good stuff. Please leave me any feed back. And please share what kind of jam you are making and how it turns out!
Happy safe canning!
P.S. Did you have fun learning how to make old fashioned pectin free jam? Are you interested in learning more homesteading skills and living a healthier, more natural life? Sign-up for our mailing list below to stay up to date on all the new posts, GMO news, and any special happenings on the farm and homestead. Welcome to the family!
Hello, I'm Jaci. I look forward to sharing my gardening and homestead adventures to help you reach your gardening goals! If you have any questions then don't be shy, I'd love to hear from you. Send me a message and I will be glad to help!